Angela Merkel warns Germany about ‘8 to 10 very hard weeks’ ahead; speculation follows about Covid-19 lockdown extension
Germany should brace itself for hard weeks ahead, Chancellor Angela Merkel is said to have warned. Some local media have already started speculating that the news could mean a potential lockdown extension.
“It will be tough until Easter,” Merkel said on Tuesday, according to multiple media outlets. The chancellor expects Germany to face “between eight and 10 very hard weeks” in the near future, Merkel announced, during closed meeting with the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) parliamentary group on internal issues and security.
Some German media, including the tabloid Bild, reported that her words may mean an extension of the existing strict lockdown up to the Easter holidays, which fall on the first week of April this year.
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Last week, the German government prolonged the lockdown till the end of January. It also imposed additional restrictions on movements in regions declared to be infection hotspots, as well as on gatherings – all while Merkel called on Germans to limit their contacts to a “minimum.”
Other news outlets, however, said that the chancellor did not explicitly put forward the idea of extending these measures until early April, but merely expressed her concerns over the spread of the British Covid-19 variant in Germany. The said virus strain is believed to be much more contagious than the previous ones.
According to Bild, Merkel warned that Germany might, by Easter, have “10 times the number of cases” it has now if the authorities fail to stop the British Covid-19 strain from spreading. However, other media outlets did not corroborate this statement.
Germany imposed a partial lockdown back in November and further tightened it in mid-December. As of now, shops, bars and restaurants as well as school remain closed. The existing rules also state that only members of one household and just one person outside of it can now come together.
The government did not name an exact date when the restrictions could be lifted. Instead, it said that the aim of the lockdown was to reduce infection rates to fewer than 50 cases per 100,000 residents. Still, Merkel and her Cabinet, as well as the heads of 16 German states, are to review the measures on January 25.
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The epidemic situation in Germany remains quite strained. On Tuesday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported 12,802 new cases and 891 new Covid-19-linked deaths. Germany launched its vaccination campaign in late December but appears to be progressing not as fast as some politicians would like it to.
Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Soeder mulled an idea of compulsory vaccination for “certain professional groups” on Tuesday. He particularly said that nursing staff in care homes should be required to take the jab to “protect the elderly” as he called on the German Ethics Council to look into the issue.
His idea immediately drew some criticism from the Social Democrats, who argued the government’s aim should be to “convince” the people and not force them into vaccination.
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Source:RT World News