Germany tightens Covid-19 restrictions, Merkel warns more may be needed

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                L'Allemagne introduira des mesures plus strictes sur les rassemblements et le port de masques pour lutter contre la flambée des infections à coronavirus, a déclaré mercredi la chancelière Angela Merkel après des entretiens avec les chefs des 16 États fédéraux allemands.
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                                    <p>La plus grande économie d'Europe commencera à imposer des limites aux personnes qui se rassemblent lors d'événements ainsi que le port obligatoire du masque dans les endroits bondés lorsque les nouvelles infections dans une zone atteignent 35 pour 100000 en sept jours, plus tôt que sous le critère précédent utilisé de 50 pour 100000.

“I am convinced that what we do now in these days and weeks will be decisive in the question of how to get through this pandemic,” said Merkel.

“We can see that… the infection rates are increasing and we have a very high infection rate in some areas,” she added.

“So we must prevent an uncontrolled or exponential increase.”

If an area registers more than 35 new infections per 100,000 population for seven days, masks will become mandatory in all places where people are in close contact for an extended period.

The number of people allowed to assemble will also be limited to 25 in public spaces and 15 in private spaces.

“We decided on this prophylactic number of 35 because we’ve seen a few examples of how quickly the increase occurs from 35 to 50,” Merkel said.

Once a threshold of 50 new infections per 100,000 is exceeded, even stricter restrictions will apply.

These include limiting private gatherings to 10 people or two households and closing restaurants after 11:00 p.m. (9:00 p.m. GMT).

Hotel ban

The tense eight-hour talks aimed to establish a more unified approach amid fears that Germany’s federal system could lead to a confusing patchwork of regulations.

But a particular sticking point has been a ban agreed last week on domestic travelers from so-called risk areas from staying in hotels or holiday apartments.

With state prime ministers seeking to overturn the ban, Merkel said discussions on the topic would be postponed until the end of the autumn school break on November 8.

Instead, they simply agreed to urge citizens to avoid “domestic travel in and out of areas” where new infections have exceeded 50 per 100,000 population, which would qualify them as areas at risk.

Merkel has repeatedly expressed concern over the increase in contagion in recent days, urging the country not to waste its early successes by keeping the numbers manageable.

She prioritized keeping schools open, so that students did not waste more teaching time and most of the economy could continue to function.

But new infections continued to rise on Wednesday, pushing back 5,000 cases in 24 hours, a level not seen since a lockdown imposed on Europe’s largest economy in the spring.

Even more brakes could be imposed if the upward trajectory of new infections is maintained, Merkel warned.

“We will see if what we have done today is enough,” she said after Wednesday’s decisions.

“That’s why my worry still hasn’t gone away after today.”

(AFP)

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