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Germany will enter a ‘hard’ national lockdown, starting next week and over the Christmas period, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday, after agreeing to stricter measures with state governments to stem a tide of coronavirus cases.

Starting next Wednesday, all non-essential stores, services and schools will close until January 10, and Christmas Day gatherings will drop from 10 people to just five in two different households.

This week, Merkel made a passionate appeal for Germans to limit their social contact before the holidays: Despite the country’s respected healthcare system and early successes in containing the virus, a recent partial lockdown has failed to stop the wave of the second wave. Germany reported record daily deaths on Friday, with 598 deaths in 24 hours.

The new measures target traditional festivities: Christmas religious services will be subject to prior registration and no singing is allowed, alcohol should be banned in all public areas and an annual New Year’s Eve fireworks display will be canceled. Some states are also implementing additional measures, such as Bavaria, which will impose a 9 p.m. curfew.

German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz has pledged economic aid for all businesses affected by the lockdown.

Case numbers: Germany recorded 20,200 new coronavirus infections on Sunday – 2,000 more than Sunday last week – according to the Robert Koch Institute, the national disease control agency. The overall number of infections stands at 1,320,716. The death toll has increased from 321 to 21,787, according to the data.


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