But residents should be prepared for tough measures to be in place for most of the winter months as Germany is unlikely to lift its coronavirus lockdown fully early next year.
Helge Braun, Merkel's chief of staff told RTL broadcaster he had high hopes that the number of infections would fall thanks to the strict measures. But he added: “I think a comprehensive relaxation is very, very unlikely.”
“January and February are always, in terms of respiratory tract infections, particularly difficult months.” As long as there is not enough vaccine doses for everyone during the winter phase, “we will still have difficult days,” he added.
However, Braun said when the lockdown measures are eased, schools and Kitas will have priority.
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In spring, gyms and other facilities were reopened first while daycare centres and schools were still closed. The Chancellor's Office promises that this lockdown will be different.
“That's what we've always said. That is the last thing we close and the first thing we open,” the Christian Democrat (CDU) politician said.
“Education has priority, and it will stay that way,” Braun stressed.
Politicians have already dampened hopes that daycare centres and schools would return to normal operations after January 10th.
Bavaria's state premier Markus Söder said on Sunday: “Even after that, I can't imagine that everything will simply continue as normal.” The virus does not stick to dates, he added.
'Don't buy Christmas presents'
Chancellor Merkel and the state leaders agreed to implement harsher coronavirus measures from Wednesday December 16th until at least January 10th.
Under the stricter rules, only essential shops such as supermarkets and pharmacies, as well as banks, are to remain open, while hairdressers will close. Schools will close during the period or move to online teaching.
Restaurants, hotels, bars, beauty salons, cultural and leisure facilities are already closed.
There is also a ban on the sale of fireworks and drinking alcohol in public.
Meanwhile economics minister Peter Altmaier (CDU) called on citizens to refrain from buying Christmas presents altogether on Monday and Tuesday before the stricter measures start because of the risk of infection.
“I hope and wish that people will only buy the most essential food they really need,” he said on Sunday evening, adding that the health of many people is at stake. “The faster we get these infections under control, the better it is for everyone.”
The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported more than 16,000 new cases and 188 deaths on Monday. That's almost half the daily infections reported late last week. But the drop could be linked to fewer tests being carried out and less data being transferred to the RKI during the weekend.