DThe lockdown, which was previously limited to the end of January, to contain the corona pandemic in Germany, will be extended to mid-February in view of the continued high numbers of infections and deaths. Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and the prime ministers of the federal states decided on Tuesday at their switching conference.
Merkel justified the extension of the lockdown with the danger of the mutated corona virus. “We have to act now,” she said. There is still time to prevent the danger. Otherwise the numbers could rise sharply. The hard cuts had an effect. However, these efforts are threatened with “serious danger”, which is seen more clearly today. Merkel referred to the mutation of the virus, which appeared mainly in Great Britain and Ireland. Previous findings indicated that this mutated virus is much more contagious. Individual cases are already known in Germany.
According to Merkel, the extension of the lockdown should noticeably strengthen the containment of corona. The aim is to once again significantly accelerate the decline in the number of infections. “It’s tough what we have to expect people to do again now.” But it is about precaution for the country and the citizens, but also for the economy and the world of work, which would suffer very badly from an explosion in the number of infections.
The federal and state governments have agreed on these measures
Contacts: Furthermore, meetings outside of your own household are only allowed with one other person. It is advised to keep the number of households involved as constant and small as possible.
Masks: Better protective masks should be mandatory in public transport and in shops. These can be surgical masks, FFP2 masks or KN95 masks, which have a comparable standard. Everyday masks made of fabric are no longer enough.
Daycare centers and schools: Daycare centers and schools will remain closed until February 14th or the compulsory attendance will be suspended.
Retirement and nursing homes: Staff must wear an FFP2 mask when in contact with residents. Bundeswehr soldiers and volunteers are to step in so that visitors and staff can do quick tests several times a week. There should also be enough tests in facilities for people with disabilities.
Work and home office: Employers must enable work from home wherever possible. The Federal Ministry of Labor is to issue a corresponding ordinance for a limited period by March 15.
Read here the original resolutions of the federal and state governments
Tax incentives for computers: Anyone who purchases “certain digital assets” should be able to fully deduct them from tax in the year of purchase – retroactively from January 1st. It is about “computer hardware and software for data entry and processing”.
Services: Church services are allowed if the minimum distance of 1.5 meters is maintained. A mask with a higher protection standard is compulsory, singing is prohibited. Meetings with more than ten participants must generally be reported to the regulatory office at least two working days in advance.
Hotspots: In countries and counties where a particularly high number of people are infected in relation to the number of inhabitants, tougher measures should take effect if necessary. There, too, there should be a realistic chance of reaching the goal of 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days (7-day incidence) by mid-February.
Vaccinations: All residents of nursing homes who wish to do so should be vaccinated by mid-February at the latest. Almost half have already been vaccinated according to the decision. The federal government wants to try to give the federal states reliable vaccine delivery times for the next six weeks.
Virus mutations: According to a regulation that has been in force since Tuesday, the circulating variants of the coronavirus should be examined more closely for the exact virus type (sequencing). The federal government should present the first results by the beginning of February. The background is fears about the spread of new virus variants, such as in Great Britain or Ireland, which could be significantly more contagious.
Health authorities: Students are to be recruited and trained to follow up contacts in health authorities for the semester break from mid-February to mid-April. The aim is to ensure contact follow-up at least up to an incidence of 50.
Corona help: Access to government support for companies and self-employed persons is to be made easier, and aid is to be expanded. The obligation to file for insolvency will be suspended until the end of April for companies that are entitled to assistance payments and have submitted a promising application in good time.
Next Steps: The federal and state governments want to develop a concept for a “safe and fair opening strategy” by mid-February.
The following also applies: The retail trade remains closed. Exceptions apply to shops that cover daily needs. Hairdressers, massage practices and cosmetic studios are also closed. Alcohol consumption in public places remains prohibited.
The lockdown discussion
Concerns about tightening
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