‘A pandemic knows no holidays’: Germany extends coronavirus curbs on public life

'A pandemic knows no holidays': Germany extends coronavirus curbs on public life
The near-empty Görlitzer Park in central Berlin on Wednesday afternoon. Photo: DPA
Germany will extend its current restrictions on public life to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus by two weeks until April 19th, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday.

“We assessed the situation today and confirmed that the restrictions…will be valid up to and including April 19th. We will reassess the situation on the Tuesday after Easter,” Merkel said in a telephone conference following a video meeting with regional state premiers.

German authorities on March 22nd ordered restaurants shut and banned gatherings of more than two people to slow the spread of COVID-19.

READ ALSO: Germany bans gatherings of more than two to control coronavirus spread

The restrictions were initially slated to last two weeks, but will now be extended until April 19, to coincide with the end of the Easter school holidays.

Certain individual states including Bavaria – Germany's largest state – had already announced an extension, and others will now follow suit in the coming days.
 
 

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Merkel noted that the lengthened period of curbs means families may not be able to visit each other during Easter celebrations in Germany.
 
But she warned that a “pandemic does not recognise holidays”.
 
The government has repeatedly rejected calls to relax the measures in recent days, with Merkel calling on the public to “be patient” in a podcast last weekend.
 
Chancellor Angela Merkel announcing the restrictions on March 22nd. Photo: DPA
 
On Wednesday, the Chancellor reiterated that it was “much too early to think about loosening the restrictions”.
 
“It would be much worse to do it too early, and we are still very far away from what we need to achieve,” she said.

She pointed out that the number of infections was still rising sharply in Germany, and said that any reassessment of the measures would be based on the advice of the Robert Koch Institute for public health (RKI), which is leading the country's fight against the virus.

Merkel said that the contact restrictions were being observed well. On the Tuesday after Easter, or April 14th, the federal and state governments would reassess the situation based, among other things, on data from the RKI.
 
As of Wednesday at 5pm, there were over 73,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany and 815 deaths, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.
 
 
Chancellor in self-isolation
 
Merkel is currently working from home, like millions of other Germans, after coming into contact with a doctor who was diagnosed with COVID-19.
 
The Chancellor has tested negative for coronavirus three times, however, her spokesman on Monday said she would continue to carry out duties from her home in the coming days.

While in isolation, Merkel has held government meetings via video link.

On Saturday she released an audio message thanking Germans for heeding the country's unprecedented confinement measures and avoiding unnecessary social contacts.


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