Chancellor Angela Merkel and her colleagues from the federal states just prolonged the Corona lockdown in Germany until March 7th, 2021. They made a few changes though.
Berlin, February 10th, 2021. Update: February 11th, 08:34 a.m. CET (The Berlin Spectator) — After the latest Corona video conference with Angela Merkel and the First Ministers from the capitals of Germany’s sixteen federal states, the Chancellor announced an extension of the lockdown into March and some changes.
New Target for Incidence Number
For instance, the federal states may reopen their schools and kindergartens, even though Mrs. Merkel opposed this kind of step. While the provinces and city states in the Federal Republic of Germany do have decision-making power in the field of education, the Chancellor’s idea was to keep schools closed in the entire country until next month, also because of the danger newly discovered Corona variants pose.
Another important decision has to do with the numbers and a perspective for reopening non-vital retail businesses. This can now happen as soon as the Seven Day Incidence Number drops down to 35. The Incidence Number shows how many persons have been infected with the Coronavirus per 100,000 inhabitants within a week. Since the second Corona wave started, it was Germany’s official goal to get it down below 50 and keep it there. At this stage, the country’s Incidence Number stands at 68.0.
Less Corona Patients in Intensive Care
For practical reasons, hairdressers and barbers are allowed to reopen from March 1st. Similar businesses, such as beauty parlors or nail salons, need to remain closed for now. What Corona vaccinations are concerned, the priority list for recipients is supposed to change. Primary school teachers and child workers will be vaccinated earlier than initially planned.
After the conference, Angela Merkel said Germany could be satisfied with the latest developments. For instance, a lot less Corona patients were in intensive care, compared to a few weeks ago. She thanked the nation for enabling the improvement. At the same time, she mentioned the Corona mutations. In late January, the share of new infections with the “British variant” of the Coronavirus was 5.7 percent, according to the Chancellor. The “South African mutant” had spread as well, but less.
‘Mutation is Reality’
“The mutation is a reality. It will increase”, Angela Merkel said. The third wave was building up. It could only be fought effectively if the numbers decreased first. Experts had told the government that the Corona mutations could gain the upper hand between now and mid-March, the Chancellor stated.
She announced the contact restrictions would remain the same, meaning people from one household may gather with up to one person from another one. People should not travel, Mrs. Merkel said. As many people as possible needed to work from home. What the schools are concerned, she explained federalism was the best system there was. As Chancellor, she had not been able to force through her ideas about reopening schools.
Merkel Delivers Perspective
Angela Merkel, who will leave the Chancellery, and politics, later this year, also gave the Germans and other residents of the country a perspective, by talking about the “next reopening step”. Once the Incidence Number was at or below 35, all retail businesses could reopen, along with museums and galleries. More steps would be taken soon. On March 3rd, the next Corona conference is scheduled to take place. It will be the fourth one this year, not counting the recent ‘Vaccination Summit’.
The Chancellor had more good news: She announced businesses could now apply for the Corona Interim Aid the government is offering. The maximum amount per company is 100,000 Euro (121,258 U.S. Dollars or 87,611 Pounds Sterling) per month.
At the same press conference in Berlin, Berlin’s Governing Mayor Michael Müller stated the measures that had been taken had worked. Many lives had been saved. His Bavarian colleague, First Minister Markus Söder, said anyone who had doubted the anti-Corona measures had been proven wrong. The situation in Germany was a lot better than it had been a few weeks ago, but the mood was worse.
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