- “We must further reduce our social contacts in order to fight” the pandemic, the Chancellor added.
- Critics argue that this measure does not make any sense.
- Criticisms of Health Minister Jens Spahn come not only from the opposition but also from the Social Democratic ranks, government partners of Merkel’s conservatives.
Germany faces weeks of more social, economic, and movement restrictions. An agreement was reached on Tuesday by the federal government and the executives of the nation’s 16 federal states to close most non-food shops, bars, restaurants, cultural and leisure facilities and schools.
New rules are being brought in, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said. “We must further reduce our social contacts in order to fight” the pandemic, the Chancellor added.
The restrictions that came into force last November– the closure of shops and premises considered non-essential, schools and restricted operation of nurseries, among others– continue until January 31, as announced by Chancellor Merkel.
The country’s tightening of measures come as its death toll surpassed 35,000.
Beyond the expected extension of the existing restrictions, there is a new limitation that draws attention, and that has already generated debate, controversy, and criticism from the parliamentary opposition. Citizens living in regions with an incidence of more than 200 new infections for every 100,000 inhabitants won’t be allowed to leave their usual place of residence within a radius of 15 kilometers.
The prohibition can only be broken for urgent reasons. According to data from the Robert Koch Institute, currently, 67 districts of the country are in this epidemiological situation, and most of them are in the states of Saxony and Thuringia.
Critics argue that this measure does not make any sense because it means a ban on traveling by car while it does allow cities to continue to produce crowds in public transport.
Traveling to Germany
Traveling to Germany will also be more complicated: according to the document, as of January 11, it will only be possible to enter the country with a negative coronavirus test– with a maximum period of 48 hours– or to undergo a test upon entry into German territory.
Those travelers who come from territories considered at risk by the German authorities– practically all the States of the European Union and much of the rest of the world– will also have to undergo a 10-day quarantine that can only be reduced with another negative test that can be carried out to from the fifth day after entering Germany.
This “double test” strategy clearly seeks to discourage travel outside the borders of Germany at a time when fears of another virus mutation, such as the one registered in the United Kingdom at the end of last year, are rampant.
These new restrictions in Germany are accompanied by criticism of the management of the vaccination process coordinated by the federal Minister of Health, fellow Christian Democrat Jens Spahn. Those responsible for the vaccination centers throughout the country continue to warn that the doses are still insufficient.
Criticisms of Spahn come not only from the opposition but also from the Social Democratic ranks, government partners of Merkel’s CDU-CSU conservatives.