Germany to impose stricter lockdown from Wednesday (Ld)

Germany will enter a stricter lockdown from Wednesday, which will include the closure of non-essential shops and limiting the size of private gatherings, over the resurgence of new coronavirus cases, Chancellor Angela Merkel said here.

The tighter restrictive measures, which will be effective until January 10, 2021, were in response to the “exponential growth” in the number of fresh confirmed cases reported across the country, Xinhua news agency quoted Merkel as saying to journalists on Sunday.

“Today is the day to do what is necessary,” Merkel told journalists in Berlin on Sunday.

Starting from Wednesday, most retail stores will be closed except for those covering daily or holiday needs, such as supermarkets, pharmacies, banks and Christmas tree shops.

Schools and daycare centres will also be closed.

Companies will be asked to take work-from-home solutions.

Private gatherings will be limited to a maximum of five people from two households, excluding children up to the age of 14.

From December 24 to 26, meetings with another four people who go beyond one’s own household but from the closest family circle should be permitted.

There will be a nationwide ban on fireworks sales and public outdoor gatherings on New Year’s Eve.

Drinking alcoholic beverages in public places will also be prohibited.

On January 5, 2021, Merkel and the state leaders will consult again to decide on measures for the next stage.

On Sunday, Germany reported 20,200 new Covid-19 cases, increasing the total infection tally to 1,320,716, according to the Robert Koch Institute.

The death toll currently stands at 21,900.