Europe’s largest economy is going back into partial lockdown for the entire month of November in an attempt to get control of its spiralling coronavirus infections.
“The speed of the virus is especially high,” chancellor Angela Merkel said at a press conference in Berlin on Wednesday after her video conference with the 16 state leaders.
She said that the amount of people in intensive care with COVID-19 had doubled in the past 10 days — and the health system would be at its limit within weeks if infections were not brought under control.
“We have to act, and act now,” Merkel added. “The curve must be flattened again.”
Billed initially as a kind of “lockdown lite,” the new restrictions agreed upon in the meeting are extensive and will stay in place for the whole month of November.
WATCH: Merkel plans circuit-break lockdown for Germany
New restrictions include shutting down restaurants, bars, cinemas, gyms, theatres, and other public and leisure spaces.
Only two households are allowed meet, up to a maximum of 10 people. Travel within Germany on non-essential trips is also forbidden, including to visit relatives.
Shops, schools and kindergartens will remain open, and old people in nursing homes can have visitors.
The German government has reportedly earmarked up to €10bn ($11.8bn) in immediate aid to compensate businesses that must close for a month. The proposed compensation would see the government pay small companies 75% of lost revenue and bigger ones up to 70%, based on their sales in November last year.
Restaurant and bar owners, already suffering from sweeping curfews in October, have warned that a second lockdown would put many of them out of business for good.
Germany’s first lockdown in spring this year was highly effective in flattening the curve of new COVID-19 infections in the country. However, a combination colder weather, returning holidaymakers, private parties and events, and a growing reluctance to adhere to strict distancing rules has seen cases soar in the past week to over 11,000 a day.
Germany’s Robert Koch Institute reported 14,964 new cases in the past 24 hours on Wednesday morning. Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 470,727 cases and 10,308 deaths due to COVID-19.