Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier (CDU) calls on citizens to refrain from buying Christmas presents on Monday and Tuesday because of the risk of infection. “I wish and I hope that people only get what they really need in terms of food,” Altmaier told the newspaper image. It is not the time for “shopping adventures”, vouchers are the best solution. Nobody can say when the shops will reopen after Christmas. “The sooner we get these infections under control, the better it is for everyone.”
Green parliamentary group leader Anton Hofreiter called for a step-by-step plan for the period after January 10 after the federal-state resolutions on lockdown. “For the next few months we need well-planned action and a long-term perspective,” Hofreiter told the newspaper Rheinische Post. He expects that a law with a nationwide binding phased plan will be passed in January, through which it would become clear when and where which measures apply. The Greens would support the decisions. “We support the now planned hard shutdown. The alternative would have been a complete loss of control and many more deaths.”
16 362 cases: new corona infections significantly above the previous week’s value
The number of new infections with the corona virus remains at a high level, even if the German health authorities reported comparatively few new corona infections to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) at the start of the week. Within one day, 16,362 new cases were transmitted, as the RKI announced on Monday morning. That is around 4,000 cases more than last Monday, when the number of new infections reported was 12,332. The previous record was reached on Friday with 29,875 reported cases. The number of cases published by the RKI is usually lower on Sundays and Mondays, among other things because fewer tests are carried out on the weekend. The German health authorities also reported 188 new deaths within 24 hours. Exactly a week ago this value was 147. The previous high of 598 deaths was reached on Friday. The trend in the number of daily deaths had recently gone up, which was also expected after the steep increase in new infections. The total number of people who died with or with a proven infection with Sars-CoV-2 rose to 21,975.
The seven-day incidence, which is decisive for assessing the situation – the new infections reported per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days – is also increasing significantly. On Sunday it was at a high of 169. On Monday it rose further to 176.4.
The federal and state governments decide on lockdown from Wednesday
In view of the persistently high number of corona infections, Germany is facing another shutdown from December 16 to January 10. The federal and state governments agreed on this on Sunday. The measures taken on November 2 would not have been enough to contain the infection, said Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) in a press conference afterwards. “We are forced to act and are acting now.”
The new rules also stipulate that the retail trade, with the exception of shops for daily needs such as grocery stores, must close from Wednesday. Significant contact restrictions at schools and daycare centers are to apply for the same period. “During this time, children should be cared for at home whenever possible. Therefore, the schools will be closed or the compulsory attendance will be suspended during this period,” says the decision. The same procedure should be used in day-care centers. According to these ideas, additional opportunities should be created for parents to be able to take paid leave to look after their children during the period mentioned.
Furthermore, a maximum of five people from two households are allowed to meet privately, with the exception of children up to the age of 14 years. For the Christmas days from December 24th to 26th, the federal states may allow four more people from the close family circle plus children up to 14 years of age to each household “depending on their respective infection rate”. According to the Chancellor, the closest family circle includes spouses and other life partners as well as direct relatives such as siblings, siblings and their respective household members, even if this means more than two households. Previously, more generous easing for Christmas had been planned, which provided for up to 10 people. Services should be possible, but with clear distance rules, including a mask requirement on the square and a ban on singing.
On New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, a “ban on gathering and gathering” is to be implemented nationwide. In addition, a fireworks ban is to apply in public places, which are determined by the municipalities. “There is a ban on selling pyrotechnics before New Year’s Eve,” said Merkel. In addition, drinking alcohol in public will be banned from December 16 to January 10 and violations will be fined. “Facilities for body-friendly services” such as hairdressing salons, cosmetic studios, massage practices and tattoo studios are to be closed.
She is aware that the package of measures “affects the living conditions of many people”, said the Chancellor. She would like to “urgently ask you to refrain from contacts that are not absolutely necessary in the next few days”. The government advises against travel at home and abroad. Even before meetings on the Christmas holidays, citizens should reduce their contacts for seven days and insert a “protection week”.
“As a government, we have sworn to avert harm to the German people,” said Olaf Scholz (SPD) in the joint press conference with the Chancellor on Sunday. The Federal Minister of Finance is planning new billions in aid due to the new measures. For a month this will cost a good eleven billion euros, he said. “There will be very extensive economic and bridging aid.” Up to 90 percent of the fixed costs of closed businesses would be covered. For one company that could be up to 500,000 euros.
“Lateral thinkers” demonstrate in Frankfurt despite the ban
Despite the ban on a demonstration against the Corona measures, both supporters of the “lateral thinking” initiative and counter-demonstrators took to the streets on Saturday in Frankfurt am Main. The city had previously banned the demonstration, and the Hessian Administrative Court in Kassel confirmed the ban. An urgent application by the initiative to the Federal Constitutional Court also failed. The organizers of a “lateral thinking” demonstration in Dresden were also unsuccessful before the Federal Constitutional Court.
Before the Karlsruhe decision, the Hessian Administrative Court justified the decision on Saturday morning with the high risk of infection. In view of the expected number of participants of around 40,000 demonstrators, it was not clear how the required minimum distances in downtown Frankfurt could be maintained. In addition, on the Saturday before the third Advent, “a high number of passers-by who do their Christmas shopping can be expected”. The applicant had not submitted a viable hygiene concept for its meetings and rejected alternative locations offered by the city of Frankfurt.
Two small gatherings with “a handful” of “lateral thinkers” were dissolved, as a police spokesman announced. “These were in direct context with the forbidden event.” In the meantime, around 450 counter-demonstrators had met for a rally and started a march from there. The “lateral thinkers” had called on their supporters to come to Frankfurt despite the ban and to register spontaneous meetings.
In the meantime, the mood became more charged when both groups met at the main guard in the city center, as a police spokesman reported on Saturday. The officers threatened the use of water cannons, but were able to separate the groups. So far, the spokesman has not been able to say whether or how many arrests there have been. The police were in action with hundreds from several federal states.
The organizers of the “lateral thinking” demonstration in Dresden were unsuccessful before the Federal Constitutional Court, and their urgent application was also rejected. The Saxon Higher Administrative Court in Bautzen had previously confirmed the city of Dresden’s ban. The Higher Administrative Court came under fire a month ago when it overturned the ban on “thinking outside the box” in downtown Leipzig at the beginning of November.
According to the police, alleged rally participants who had arrived were stopped, two buses were sent back to the motorway and a group of hooligans who behaved aggressively were taken into custody. Administrative offense proceedings were initiated against the 26 men for violating corona measures. According to the police, there were no major incidents and the situation remained calm. A total of 161 referrals were given and almost 300 administrative offenses were punished. In addition, the officers stated that they had committed 25 crimes, including insulting, resisting law enforcement officers and falsifying health certificates. A total of 72 people were temporarily taken into police custody.
Despite the judicial ban on a large assembly, around 500 people came to the Domplatz on Saturday afternoon in the Thuringian capital Erfurt, according to police. According to observers, the situation escalated in part when the police tried to break up the unauthorized meeting, which was directed against the state’s corona measures, and to determine the identities of the participants. The police had previously asked people several times to leave the square one by one. Many did not follow suit. Instead, a crowd moved a little way into the adjacent Marktstrasse.