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Germany: Merkel and First Ministers to Decide About Corona Approach

In Berlin, another big day has arrived. Chancellor Angela Merkel and the First Ministers intend to decide how to proceed with Corona for the rest of the year. Behind the scenes, drafts are being discussed already.

Berlin, November 25th, 2020 (The Berlin Spectator) — When the First Ministers from Germany’s federal states meet this afternoon, they will have a draft resolution which contains a compromise on how they want the Corona rules to look like until early next year.

Voluntary Quarantine

It includes an easing of the contact restrictions from December 23rd to January 1st. For Christmas and New Year’s Eve, ten persons from different households may gather, according to the draft resolution. Children will be exempt if the First Ministers get their way. Before Christmas, citizens and residents of other nationalities are supposed to go into a voluntary quarantine in their homes.

The draft resolution also includes an appeal to business owners. They are supposed to close their offices and locations from December 24rd until January 1st, if possible. More schoolkids are supposed to wear masks in class. According to the suggestions, there should be more room per customer in shops, meaning less people will be allowed to enter at the same time.

Vacation Dates

Restaurants, pubs and cafés would remain closed. Also the First Ministers believe there should not be a ban on fireworks for New Year’s Eve. But they do want to forbid the use of such products on busy streets and squares.

According to several German-language dailies, Angela Merkel wants to tighten the measures listed in the draft resolution. While the First Ministers want to give the federal states the opportunity to prolong the Christmas vacations by starting them on December 21st, the Chancellor wants all states to have vacations from December 16th, in order to decrease the danger of Corona infections at schools ahead of Christmas.

More Related Deaths

Mrs. Merkel also wants the authorities to check the adherence to the rules more. And she favors even stricter rules for retail businesses. So far, one customer per 10 square meters of space may enter shops. She wants to increase the space to 25 square meters per person. Bavaria’s First Minister Markus Söder, who agreed to the draft resolution with his colleagues, seems to want more restrictions as well. It remains to be seen what kind of outcome the Chancellor and her colleagues from the states will come up with in the afternoon or evening.

In the meantime, the number of new infections per day decreased compared to last week. Within the past 24 hours, 16,370 new infections were reported, according to Johns Hopkins University. But the number of deaths increased to a new high:

> In Germany, 410 Corona patients died within 24 hours, the Robert Koch Institute says. Since the Corona pandemic started, 14,832 Corona-related deaths have been counted.

> In Berlin alone, there were 36 Corona-related deaths within a day. The total number of deaths in the German capital increased to 492.

‘Major Deadly Threat’

On Tuesday,, Germany’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier commented on the Corona situation in a speech at an event called ‘Tenth Bellevue Forum on the Future of Democracy’. “This fall, Corona has a firm grip on our country and our neighbors in Europe”, the President stated. “In recent weeks, the virus has spread like wildfire and since the start of the month, our daily lives are again restricted by tighter rules.”

“Today, we know more about the virus than we did in spring but we also know that it is not yet under control, the infection rates are too high”, Steinmeier said. “This fall and winter, Corona is and remains a major, deadly threat. We all need to keep taking this threat seriously, we need to take it very seriously. For the time being, prudence and patience, consideration and caution are our most important resources to protect human lives.”

‘Lessons to Learn’

“Let’s not let the virus divide our society. It is my hope that young and old, those at risk and those less at risk, stand together, during the crisis and also thereafter”, the President continued. “And we have seen in recent months that we have been able to argue about the right course of action and then to find a way forward which has brought us through the crisis relatively well. We have seen that fighting Corona can strengthen democracy and even cohesion in our society.”

“I remain confident. The restrictions we are experiencing currently to curb the rate of infection are not easy to stomach. But together we will get through the Corona crisis”, Steinmeier said. “The virus will not steal our future. On the contrary, there are lessons to learn from this time of trial which will stand us in good stead in the future.”