Chancellor Angela Markel from Germany made statements. The step is a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus and slow the transmission of virus variants considered to be more infectious in the world.
“We have to act now, that’s what moved me and us during the consultations,” Merkel said, referring to Tuesday’s hour-long meeting between her and the 16 state premieres in Germany.
Medical masks, i.e. surgical masks or FFP2 higher security masks, may now be required for public transport or for important shops such as supermarkets that have been permitted to remain open.
Schools and daycare centers (Kitas), non-essential stores, restaurants, entertainment, and sports facilities will stay closed.
In order to minimize traffic on public transport, businesses are asked to encourage employees to work from home where possible. This plan is scheduled to apply until the 15th of March.
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The measure goes above previous appeals to businesses to allow Germany to have more “home office”
“All our efforts to contain the virus are threatened by a serious danger,” Merkel told reporters, referring to new strains of the virus that have caused a surge in infections in Britain and Ireland.
She added that the stricter curbs were necessary as “a precaution for our country, the health of our citizens and also for the economy”.
Steffen Seibert, Merkel’s spokesperson, said before that the steps had led to a “flattening of the infections curve”. She added that the number of patients in intensive care had dropped marginally.
Due to concerns over the latest variants discovered in South Africa and Britain. Tuesday’s talks between Merkel and state premiers were pushed forward by a week.
Infection rates have risen well above the government’s 50 per 100,000 people threshold set. And the world saw a new high in daily deaths last Thursday, with 1,244.
Daily fatalities hit 989 on Tuesday, although health officials said they may have been exaggerated after a weekend reporting lag. It has reported more than 11,000 new cases.
On Monday, Seibert noted that the incidence rate was still over 130 per 100,000 people. Germany “must move quickly” getting that down to 50.0 per 100,000 people.
Experts have been disturbed by data showing that this winter, unlike in the spring when a shutdown seemed to have triggered a dramatic drop in mobility. Germans seemed to be moving about almost as usual.