Amid variant fears, Germany extends Covid-19 lockdown until March 7
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government agreed Wednesday to continue a partial lockdown to fight the coronavirus pandemic until at least March 7, even as Germans grow increasingly weary of the tough restrictions.
Following crunch talks with the leaders of Germany’s 16 states, Merkel said that the number of new Covid-19 infections in Europe’s top economy was dropping after more than two months of shuttered schools and shops.
“When we look at this development we can be quite satisfied,” she told reporters.
“We want to do everything in our power so that we don’t end up riding an up-and-down wave of openings and closures,” Merkel said, calling the period until mid-March “existential” for Germany’s management of the pandemic.
The new strains “are spreading especially quickly and require significant additional efforts”, the government said in conclusions agreed at the meeting.
Under Germany’s federal system, regional states have significant decision-making powers and some have strayed from the government line in the past to loosen some restrictions.
The text stresses that schools and daycare centres should be “the first to gradually reopen”, but that it is for individual states to decide how and when.
After the announcement, Berlin Mayor Michael Mueller said the capital would begin partially reopening schools from February 22, with other regions expected to follow suit.
The conclusions call on Health Minister Jens Spahn to review whether nursery workers and teachers can be given higher priority in vaccinations.
Hairdressers may reopen on March 1 if they take the necessary hygiene precautions…..read more