CHRISTMAS markets were deserted and children took homeschooling classes as Germany yesterday launched a nationwide lockdown.
Stricter measures are in place after Covid death rates hit record highs.
A total of 952 deaths were reported yesterday – far more than the previous record of 598, set on Friday – bringing Germany’s total death toll to 23,427.
Shops and schools have been closed after the Robert Koch Institute – the country’s center for disease control – recorded 179.8 deaths from Covid per 100,000 residents last week. It was 149 per 100,000 a week earlier.
Ministers also limited private gatherings to two households with a maximum of five people in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.
The measures are expected to be in place until at least January 10.
Restaurants and bars were closed early last month, but shops remained open. And while the measures have been successful in stabilizing infection rates, cases have more than quadrupled from the first wave of the virus, the data shows.
Cases peaked at around 6,000 in March, but 27,728 were reported yesterday. Berlin has urged the European Medicines Agency to speed up approval of a coronavirus vaccine and hopes to roll out vaccines before the end of the year.
Urging people to play by the rules, Health Minister Jens Spahn said: “By the summer we can get back to normal, step by step. ”
Meanwhile, hundreds of actors, musicians, and film and theater workers launched a protest in Paris after the government was forced to back down from the planned reopening of the arts hall.
Prime Minister Jean Castex has ordered cinemas, theaters, museums and concert halls to remain closed until at least January 7 after rising infection rates. He said the decision was “particularly painful for us”.