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January lockdown: Extended and tightened

Chancellor Merkel and state governors have agreed on stringent measures to last until at least January 31.

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The situation remains dire in Germany , so Chancellor Merkel and state governors have agreed  on stringent measures to last until at least January 31. Photo: Creative Commons

After several hours of consultation with Germany’s 16 state governors, Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday announced that the country would extend its current lockdown measures while making some even stricter.

“We must be especially careful now. We are in a new and extraordinary situation,” Merkel said in a press conference. “We must further reduce our social contacts in order to fight the pandemic.” The tightened measures are needed to combat the new, more infectious variant of the coronavirus and the high load on intensive care units.

On Tuesday, 11,987 coronavirus cases were confirmed in previous 24 hours and at least 944 deaths reported, making the official count for virus-related deaths to be 35,518 according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). 

The new regulations are to be in place until at least January 31.

Updated rules 

  • Private meetings are now restricted to just one other person from outside the household
  • People arriving in Germany from high-risk areas are now required to submit two negative test results and enter a mandatory 10-day quarantine. The first test must be taken either 48 hours prior to travel or immediately upon arrival, the second test may be taken five days after arrival, and may then shorten the quarantine if the results are negative
  • Parents will receive 10 extra days paid leave in order to look after their children. Single parents will receive 20 days extra
  • There will be a hotspot travel ban: Residents of areas deemed Corona hotspots (an incident rate of 200 cases per 100,000 residents over seven days) will be restricted from travelling more than 15 kilometres from their place of residence. Day trips are specifically forbidden. Berlin is currently under the incident threshold, but this may change.

What stays the same

  • All nonessential shops and services remain closed. This includes entertainment centres, cultural and leisure facilities, non-food shops, bars and restaurants (except for takeaway)
  • Employers are encouraged to allow employees to work from home
  • People are forbidden from drinking alcohol in public
  • Religious events in churches, synagogues and mosques may take place if they follow hygiene rules, but communal singing is not allowed
  • On January 25, the heads of government will meet again to reassess the situation and further  discuss the measures for February. However, the Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder has already warned against the idea that it will all be over in February.