“We need another effort: patience, solidarity, discipline are strained,” Merkel said after a seven-hour video conference with leaders of Germany’s 16 regions to discuss the restrictions.
Until December 20, meetings with friends and relatives are limited to one other household, and up to a maximum of five people, while bars, restaurants and gyms will remain closed.
Schools will remain open, Merkel said, although in areas with high infection rates, special measures may be introduced.
For the Christmas season, Merkel said regional leaders had agreed to allow up to 10 people to meet, with young children not included in that number, from December 23 to January 1 at the latest.
It remains likely that the restrictions will continue into 2021, she said. Another meeting to assess the restrictions will take place before Christmas.
The Robert Koch Institute, the country’s center for disease control, reported 18,633 new cases nationwide on Wednesday, with 410 deaths. If the current rate of infection persists, Germany will exceed 1 million cases in total this weekend.
“Behind the statistics are human destinies, lives that end far too soon,” Merkel said.