Merkel tells Germans they won't be able to have New Year's Eve parties

2 months ago 16

Angela Merkel has told Germans they can't have New Year's Eve parties and social contact will be restricted for all of the winter to tackle coronavirus.

The chancellor warned 'the light at the end of the tunnel is a long way off' on the first day of a four-week lockdown which shutters bars, theatres, gyms and cinemas. 

Merkel said the success of the November lockdown would be crucial in dictating Germany's next steps and that she hoped for a 'turnaround.'  

But the 66-year-old ruled out 'lavish New Year's Eve parties,' as she said: 'It will be a Christmas under corona conditions but it should not be a lonely Christmas.'

Germany has joined Spain, Belgium, Greece and France in imposing second national lockdowns. There are also increased restrictions in Italy.  

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks at a press conference after the meeting of the Corona Cabinet in Berlin on Monday

New lockdowns in Europe 

Germany 

Restaurants, bars, theatres, gyms and cinemas closed down on Monday until the end of October. 

Germans have been asked not to make non-essential journeys and hotels are barred from accommodating people on tourist trips. 

France

Full national lockdown imposed until December 1. 

People are only allowed to leave their homes to buy essential goods, for medical reasons or to exercise.

Belgium

Non-essential shops have been shut and any services that require close contact - such as hairdressers - have also been closed.

Gyms, pools, museums and theatres are shut.

It comes a week after bars and restaurants were ordered to close for four weeks.

Italy

Imposed on October 26, the measures ask people not to leave their local areas for the next month.

Bars and restaurants must close at 6pm, while schools and workplaces remain open.

Gyms, pools, theatres and cinemas have been closed but museums are allowed to remain open.

Spain

A full lockdown was imposed on October 25, sparking violent protests in several cities, including Barcelona.

People are only allowed to leave their house for essential items, work or to care for someone else.

Greece

Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced restaurants, bars, cinemas and gyms would close across vast swathes of the country from Tuesday.

The measures mandate masks and a nationwide curfew from midnight to 5am. 

The coronavirus reacts differently and more aggressively at lower temperatures and Germany has had to react with new restrictions on public life to protect its health system, Merkel told Monday's news conference.

'We can't allow this rapid spread of the virus to overwhelm our health system,' she told a news conference, saying the number of people with the coronavirus in intensive care units has doubled in the last 10 days.

'Throughout the winter months, we will have to limit private contacts,' Merkel said. 'We are dependent on the cooperation, acceptance and understanding of the people in our country for this to work.'

She added: 'It's in everyone's own hands to make this November a joint success, a turnaround.'

On Saturday, the national disease control centre reported the highest number of infections in one day - 19,059 - since the pandemic began.

Figures at the beginning of the week tend to be lower, and the centre reported 12,097 cases Monday. But that compared with 8,685 a week earlier, underlining the upward trend. 

In Germany, the rules allow groups of up to 10 people, from a maximum of two households, to meet in public places.

Germans have been asked not to make non-essential journeys and hotels are barred from accommodating people on tourist trips.   

In contrast to the first lockdown, schools, kindergartens, non-essential shops and hairdressers are to remain open. 

Germany has reported over 100 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past week.

That is fewer than in many other European countries, but far above the 50 mark that officials set earlier this year as an alarm signal that requires action by local authorities.

Merkel and state governors are to review the situation after two weeks and discuss whether the measures need to be adjusted. 

'The aim is to get back under this level of 50 at which health offices are in a position to trace contacts,' Merkel's chief of staff, Helge Braun, told RBB Inforadio.

Merkel said last week that authorities are currently unable to trace the source of three-quarters of infections. 

Asked whether the restrictions might last beyond November, Braun replied: 'Our declared aim is that we want to end the measures in this strictness at the end of November.'

'This is also about enabling Christmas business for German companies, and Christmas celebrations with the family for all of us,' he added. 'I consider that important ... the stricter the measures, the quicker they work, so we decided on relatively strict measures.' 

Teenagers head to school on Monday as they walk past a poster featuring a nurse wearing a protective mask and thanking medics in the COVID-19 fight in the city of Rennes

In France, supermarkets have been told that they cannot sell non-essential goods after smaller shopkeepers reacted furiously to their still offering clothes, beauty products and flowers.

Similar to the restrictions imposed in Wales, the French government said it was not fair for supermarkets to profit from goods which could not be sold by smaller retailers during the new national lockdown.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told RTL radio: 'What can be sold in supermarkets is what can be sold in small shops. Today a shop selling computer equipment can remain open because it is useful for home working, it will be the same in supermarkets. Hygiene products can be sold in supermarkets and pharmacies.'

He also said that overcrowding in supermarkets was unacceptable and that they would have to stick to the rule of a maximum of one person per four square metres, or 250 people in a 1,000 square metre supermarket.

'I demand that the number of people is checked at the entrance. If it appears that this limit is not sufficiently safe, we will tighten it,' he said. 

In France, people are only allowed to leave their homes to buy essential goods, for medical reasons or to exercise. The measures are due to run until at least December.

Another 46,290 cases of coronavirus were recorded on Sunday and 231 new deaths. The seven-day average is 39,344 new cases and 323 deaths, but there are usually lags on reporting over the weekend.

The figures compare to 52,010 cases and 116 deaths recorded last Sunday.

Belgium has also imposed a similar partial lockdown. Non-essential shops have been shut and any services that require close contact - such as hairdressers - have also been closed.

Gyms, pools, museums and theatres are shut.

It comes a week after bars and restaurants were ordered to close for four weeks.

Belgium is currently the worst hit nation in the EU, with 1,600 cases per 100,000 people. 

There was a 77 percent surge in hospital admissions and the number admitted was 10 percent higher than the previous record for Covid-19 patients, set in the darkest days of the pandemic in April. 

Roughly half of all intensive care beds are taken up by coronavirus patients. 

New rules were imposed in Italy on October 26 to remain in force for a month which ask people not to leave their local areas.

A trash bin and other objects are seen on fire during a protest against the closure of bars and gyms, amidst the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Madrid, Spain, November 1

Protesters set up a barricade on Granvia Avenue during a protest against the government's coronavirus restrictions in Madrid

Anti-lockdown demonstrations intensified around Europe on Saturday night as protesters in Rome hurled Molotov cocktails, bottles and rocks at police and there were also rising tensions in Barcelona and Berlin. Pictured: Protesters in Rome, Italy

Bars and restaurants must close at 6pm, while schools and workplaces have remained open.

Gyms, pools, theatres and cinemas have been closed but museums are allowed to remain open.

Italy recorded 29,907 new cases and 208 additional deaths on Sunday. It compares to 21,273 infections and 128 fatalities last Sunday. 

In Spain, a full lockdown was imposed on October 25, sparking violent protests in several cities, including Barcelona.

People are only allowed to leave their houses for essential items, work or to care for someone else.

Small fires also broke out on the streets of Barcelona as demonstrators set fire to wooden pallets during clashes with police

Overturned trash bins are seen on the road during a protest against the closure of bars and gyms, amidst the coronavirus outbreak in Madrid

Police officers in their black uniforms stand below a towering building in the Spanish capital Madrid on Saturday night during the protests

Police officers guard a metro during one of the protests on Saturday as Madrid erupted in demonstrations as the weekend got underway

Prime minister Pedro Sánchez's restrictions are in place for 15 days but he is seeking to extend them until May 9. 

Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced restaurants, bars, cinemas and gyms would close across vast swathes of the country from Tuesday.

The measures, which have also been imposed in Athens, mandate masks and a nationwide curfew from midnight to 5am.

It comes after daily infections surged at more than 1,000 this week.  

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