Coronavirus: Germany to extend semi-lockdown until 20 December

Jill Petzinger
·Germany Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
·2 min read
A chain lock secures tables and chairs of a restaurant during the country's month-long COVID-19 lockdown, in Berlin, Germany, November 2, 2020. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke
Restaurants, cafes and bars are struggling financially in the middle of the second shutdown this year. Photo: Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters

Leaders of Germany’s 16 federal states agreed today to extend the current state of partial lockdown until December 20.

Even three weeks into lockdown, the number of daily new COVID-19 cases in Germany hit a one-day record high of over 23,000 last week. The Robert Koch Institute today reported 13,554 new infections, a drop of 900 compared to the same day last week.

The aim of extending the partial lockdown is to try and get the number of new infections down to a seven-day rate of 50 per 100,000 people, and reduce the number of people in intensive care so as not to overwhelm the hospital system. Currently, the seven-day instance is much higher, at just over 141 new infections per 100,000.

READ MORE: Pfizer says their COVID-19 vaccine ‘94% effective in over 65s’

The state premiers are due to present their proposals to chancellor Angela Merkel tomorrow on how to handle COVID-19 restrictions in the run-up to the holiday season.

They are reportedly all in agreement that the current lockdown, which has been in place since the start of November, needs to be extended but want to relax rules between 23 December and 1 January to allow for up to 10 people to meet — children under the age of 14 will be excluded from that total.

The draft proposal for the meeting says that people will be urged to self-quarantine before meeting friends and family for Christmas. School holidays may begin earlier, on 19 December.

READ MORE: Grim mood grips German managers during November lockdown

The semi-lockdown, or “lockdown light,” in November has been focused on the hospitality, tourism and leisure sectors. Bars are shut, gyms too, restaurants can only serve takeaway food, and all entertainment venues have been shut for the past three weeks.

Offices and shops and schools will remain open, with states proposing that kids from seventh grade upwards should wear masks in coronavirus hotspots.

German health minister Jens Spahn said that the mass vaccination effort could start as early as December, beginning with the elderly, medical workers, and at-risk groups.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Up to 40% of Germans in 'high-risk' group

This second lockdown is expected to hurt the country’s economic recovery in the final quarter of the year. GDP rebounded in the summer quarter by 8.5%, but overall, Europe’s largest economy is expected to shrink by over 5% in 2020 from last year.

Watch: German economy grows 8.5% in third quarter