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HEALTH

Coronavirus: Merkel warns Germany faces ‘difficult times’ in 2021

Germany's "historic" coronavirus crisis will extend into 2021 even if the vaccines bring some hope, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday in her New Year's greetings.

Coronavirus: Merkel warns Germany faces 'difficult times' in 2021
Photo: DPA

And Merkel denounced the conspiracy theories advanced by virus sceptics as not just “false and dangerous” but “cynical and cruel” towards those who had suffered during the pandemic.

“These days and these weeks… are difficult times for our country,” Merkel warned.

“And that is going to last for a good while yet.”

Speaking in what will be her final New Year's address as chancellor after four terms in office, Merkel's message was characteristically sober.

“Winter remains difficult,” she said.

“The challenges that the pandemic pose remain immense.”

Merkel thanked what she said was the vast majority of Germans who had abided by the safety restrictions imposed by the authorities to try to check the spread of the virus.

But she had harsh words for the virus sceptics, many of whom have taken their protests to the streets, some of them ignoring safety measures such as wearing masks.

“I can only imagine the bitterness felt by those who are mourning a loved one because of the coronavirus, or those who are still suffering its after-effects, when the existence of the virus is disputed or denied by some,” she said.

“The conspiracy theories are not only false and dangerous, they are also cynical and cruel towards these people,” she added.

There was nevertheless hope for the coming year, she added.

“For some days, hope has a new face: that of the first vaccinated people” in retirement homes and among health workers, said Merkel.

In her 15 years in power, she added, “never have we, despite the worries, been in such a hurry to enter a new year.”

Germany, praised for its handling of the first wave, has been hit hard by the second wave.

More than 32,000 people have now died from the virus in Germany, and on Wednesday the daily death toll passed 1,000 for the first time — although officials say this was partly due to late reporting of earlier figures.

The country is under a partial lockdown until January 10, with most shops closed along with schools, restaurants, cultural and leisure facilities.

New Year's Eve festivities will be muted, with a ban on the sale of fireworks and tight restrictions on the number of people who can gather in public.

Member comments

  1. How about discussing alternative news sites and medical experts who dispute the MSM’s constant fearmongering. Have you looked at the death rates for last December and what happened to deaths from flu they seems to have miraculously disappeared. So many eager to take an untested vaccine and no clue as to what the long term side effects are. A few people and companies are going to make billions and nobody can sue the pharma industry for vaccine damage as they have legal immunity how convenient

  2. ??Finally some truth right here??
    I hope more people are awake to the lies that we are being fed & refuse to partake in the global social Experiment Katastrophe.

  3. Good idea Denise, which medical experts and news sites would you like to mention. A lie is a statement that can be proved or disproved with evidence, Adrian provides neither. We live thankfully in a democratic country/society the decision to have or not to have the covid vaccine is a personal choice. I for one will be having the jab when it is offered to me, my choice. I have come to that decision after reading and listning to experts on both sides of the argument and then making up my own mind. Flue by the way is way down the list this year, its spread the same as covid therefor Space, Hands, Face, and a greater take up of the Flue Vaccine have reduced the numbers dramaticaly.

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CULTURE

‘People liked the silence’: How Berlin’s club scene is struggling after lockdowns

Berlin's clubs are suffering from staff shortages, a lack of guests... and neighbours who've grown used to the silence, representatives for the scene say.

'People liked the silence': How Berlin's club scene is struggling after lockdowns

Some operators from Berlin’s club scene are bracing themselves for a difficult autumn. For months now, people have been allowed to dance again and life has returned to normal in the dark corners of Berlin’s famous nightlife scene.

But the clubs have far from recovered from the pandemic. They face staff shortages, rising prices and the prospect of a return to Covid restrictions in the autumn.

“We go into the autumn with huge fear, because the omens are totally unfavorable,” said association head Pamela Schobeß.

Spring and summer went anything but smoothly, she said. “There has been an oversupply of events. People aren’t going out as much, and some are still afraid to move around indoors.”

Money is also an issue. “A lot of people are afraid of rising energy prices.”

The industry lost workers during the pandemic and it’s hard to convince them to come back with the outlook for the autumn looking so gloomy, Schobeß says.

Her colleague Robin Schellenberg tells a similar story. People have switched to various other jobs and would even rather work on a supermarket checkout, which may have been considered less sexy in the past. Now, he says, some have learned to love not having to work nights.

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Schellenberg runs the Klunkerkranich, a small club on a parking garage deck in Neukölln. Because a number of things have become more expensive, they have also had to increase their admission prices.

His impression is that people are going out less often and are deciding more spontaneously. In addition, people in the neighborhood are now more sensitive to noise. “Many people found the silence very enticing,” he said.

Some in the industry wonder what will happen next. Will club admission have to become much more expensive? Will that exclude people who can no longer afford it? And what happens if Covid infection numbers rise sharply?

If masks become mandatory indoors in October, Schobeß believes that would be bad for the clubs. “Even if we don’t get shut down by the state, we’ll actually have to close down independently ourselves,” she reckons.

Masks take all the joy out of the experience, she says. People have drinks in their hands and are “jumping around and dancing” and then security guards have to tell them “please put your mask on.”

The federal government is considering whether states should be able to make masks mandatory indoors starting in October. Exceptions should be possible, such as at cultural and sporting events, for people who have been tested, recently vaccinated and recently recovered.

In the event that Covid numbers soar, the states could then be allowed to tighten the rules and eliminate all exemptions.

READ ALSO: German court declares techno to be music

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