German govt look to toughen lockdown before Christmas as pandemic remains on rampage


Germany will have to shut down more parts of society before Christmas to try and get the coronavirus pandemic under control, ministers said on Friday, as Europe’s largest economy reported a record number of daily infections and deaths.

The government of the southwestern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg said German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the premiers of the 16 federal states would meet on Sunday to discuss new measures to slow the spread of the virus.

Germany registered a record number of nearly 30,000 daily new coronavirus infections and almost 600 deaths, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed on Friday.

Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said the rise in infection numbers was worrying and the government and state premiers would have to look at extending lockdown measures to other parts of society.

“This will lead to a lockdown that is similar in many ways to what happened in the early part of the year,” he told a virtual news conference.

Germany, the European Union’s most populous nation, went into a partial lockdown early last month, closing restaurants and bars and limiting the number of people allowed to meet, but has kept shops and schools open.

Some parts of the country have already begun imposing tougher measures, including the southern state of Bavaria, which has the nation’s highest death toll and where, since Wednesday, people are only allowed to leave home for essential reasons.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said Germany should impose a harder lockdown before Christmas if it wants to slow the spread of the pandemic.

“If we wait until Christmas, we’ll have to struggle with high numbers for months,” he told Der Spiegel magazine.

Merkel has urged German states, which are responsible for most disease-control measures, to introduce tougher measures before Christmas, but has met resistance.

Manuela Schwesig, the premier of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, which has the second-lowest incidence of the virus, spoke out in favour of closing shops from Dec. 21.