In Brief: Top German officials postpone decision on further lockdown restrictions until next week

Chancellor Angela Merkel warned more restrictions are likely coming next week because the pandemic is not slowing down enough.

Photo by Ethan Wilkinson from Pexels

 

By Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson and Kate Brady

After a contentious five-hour meeting, federal and state officials on Monday delayed any formal tightening of the lockdown.

But Chancellor Angela Merkel warned more restrictions are likely next week because the pandemic is not slowing down enough.

Banging her hand on the table, Merkel said: “The warnings…apply across the board and are very serious.”

She added that contacts should be reduced to only one other family and that people should avoid travel, even on public transit.

Merkel also said people with cold symptoms should stay home and quarantine unless their doctor tells them otherwise.

The chancellor added the numbers would have to show a steep decline in the coming days if restrictions are to be eased.

The Robert Koch Institute, meanwhile, reported 14,419 new cases over a 24-hour period. That’s a decrease compared to last Tuesday when there were 15,332 new cases reported.

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New video ads by the German government celebrating “couch potatoes” as heroes of the pandemic are stirring up controversy.

Reminiscent of interviews with war veterans, one of the videos features a fictional man in the future, looking back on the winter of 2020 when he was young.

“We mustered all our courage and did what was expected of us,” the old man says. “Absolutely nothing. As lazy as raccoons.”

The camera then pans to the 22-year-old version of the man lying on the couch, holding a remote control and eating junk food.

The government videos received praise online for their subtle humor in the fight against the pandemic. But some critics say the campaign is insensitive toward frontline health workers, people who are homebound and victims of domestic violence.

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The Greens in Berlin are again pushing for a fireworks ban here on New Year’s Eve. This time it’s because of the pandemic.

They argue that city hospitals are already strained because of COVID-19 patients and can’t handle fireworks accidents that often result here during the holiday.

The Netherlands last week banned the sale and use of fireworks for that reason.

Meanwhile, across Germany, large New Year’s Eve parties have already been banned as part of the government’s attempts to get the coronavirus outbreak under control.

This news is brought to you in cooperation with Berliner Rundfunk.  

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