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Germany introduces new restrictions amid a rise in COVID-19 cases

Germany introduces new restrictions amid a rise in COVID-19 cases

December 16, 2020: Germany has entered a hard lockdown, closing schools and non-essential businesses in an attempt to stop a sharp rise in Covid-19 infections.

The measures will be in place until January 10. Christmas will see a slight easing, with one household allowed to host four close family members.

The country reported another 952 deaths and 27,728 cases on Wednesday.

Other European countries have tightened restrictions ahead of Christmas, with France introducing a night-time curfew.

Under Germany’s new measures, only essential businesses such as supermarkets and banks, will be allowed to remain open. Restaurants, bars, and leisure centers have shut since November, and some areas of the country had imposed their lockdowns.

Deutsche Welle reported that while cases in the younger population were falling, they were still rising among older people who were more likely to suffer more severe problems from the virus. Numbers in intensive care are said to have reached alarming levels.

Announcing the new measures over the weekend, Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the “lockdown light” begun in November had not done enough to bring the virus under control.

The figures are particularly shocking, as, during the early months of the pandemic, Germany was more successful than many other European countries in its handling of the crisis.

The new lockdown comes as the German government said it was pressuring the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to speed up approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which was developed in Germany. Regulators have already approved it in the UK and the US.

Health Minister Jens Spahn said he wanted the vaccine to be approved before Christmas. A meeting by the EMA to discuss whether the vaccine should be rolled out around the bloc has been brought forward from December 29 to next Monday.

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