Germany to go into circuit-break lockdown as virus surges

Reuters Berlin, Germany Oct 28, 2020, 11.04 PM(IST) Oct 28, 2020, 11.07 PM(IST)

Coronavirus in Germany Photograph:( Reuters )

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Germany will impose an emergency month-long lockdown that includes the closure of restaurants, gyms and theatres to reverse a spike in coronavirus cases that risks overwhelming hospitals, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday

Germany will impose an emergency month-long lockdown that includes the closure of restaurants, gyms and theatres to reverse a spike in coronavirus cases that risks overwhelming hospitals, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday.

"We need to take action now," she said, adding that the key to defusing the current "very serious" situation was to reduce contacts while limiting damage to the economy.

Effective Nov. 2 , private gatherings will be limited to 10 people from a maximum of two households. Restaurants, bars, theatres, cinemas, pools and gyms will be shut and concerts cancelled.

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Professional sports events will be allowed only without spectators. People will be asked not to travel for private, non-essential reasons, and overnight stays in hotels will be available only for necessary business trips.

Schools and daycare centres will however remain open, as will shops, so long as they stick to social distancing and hygiene rules. The nationwide rules replace a confusing patchwork of regional measures.

A 10 billion euro ($11.82 billion) aid package will pay companies that have to close a share of their lost sales during the shutdown. Smaller companies, with up to 50 employees, will receive 75% of the year-earlier revenues for the month of November.

Germany was widely praised for keeping infection and death rates below those of many of its neighbours in the first phase of the crisis but is now in the midst of a second wave.

Cases rose by 14,964 to 464,239 in the last 24 hours, Germany's infections diseases agency, the Robert Koch Institute, said on Wednesday.

Deaths jumped by 85 to 10,183, fuelling fears about the health system after Merkel warned it could hit breaking point if infections continue to spiral.

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"Our health system can still cope with this challenge today, but at this speed of infections it will reach the limits of its capacity within weeks," Merkel said.

Merkel added that health authorities were no longer able to trace the origin of around 75% of infections, which made it difficult to say which measures exactly would have the biggest impact.

"We have to reduce contacts somewhere. If we wait longer, we will have to reduce contacts even more," she said.

She and state leaders will reconvene two weeks into the partial lockdown to assess how effective the measures decided on Wednesday are.

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