BERLIN — Most stores shut, tight limits on social contacts, no singing in church and a ban on fireworks sales: Germany is ratcheting up its pandemic restrictions to cut the stubbornly high rate of coronavirus infections.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said she and the governors of Germany’s 16 states agreed Sunday to step up the country’s lockdown measures from Dec. 16 to Jan. 10 to stop the exponential rise of COVID-19 cases.
“We are forced to act and we’re acting,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin, noting that existing restrictions imposed in November failed to significantly reduce the number of new infections.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Germany has risen over the past two weeks from 21.23 new cases per 100,000 people on Nov. 28 to 26 new cases per 100,000 people on Dec. 12.
Starting Wednesday, schools nationwide will be closed or switch to home schooling; most non-food stores will be closed, as will businesses such as hairdressers; restaurant takeout will remain permitted, but consumption on-site — including alcohol— will be banned.
With the exception of Christmas, the number of people allowed to meet indoors will remain restricted to five, not including children under 14.