“There are still three or four tough months: March, April, May, June,” Angela Merkel told a digital meeting with volunteers at crisis hotlines.
She said though that in the summer “things will improve significantly but at the moment every day is hard. We can see that everyone is feeling that”.
Merkel and the state leaders agreed to implement steps to gradually open up the retail sector and outdoor hospitality at the last round of lockdown talks just over a week ago.
At the same time, the relaxations are tied to the number of Covid cases per 100,000 people with a seven day period (7-day incidence), which has been on the rise again in recent days. On Thursday the Robert Koch Institute announced the highest daily number of infections since February 4th.
‘We don’t know how the pandemic ends’
Merkel’s comments are likely to dampen hopes that Germany can lift its lockdown when the weather warms up again in April, as happened last year.
In comments reported by Welt, she stressed that the decisions she and her colleagues on the state level have to make are characterised by high uncertainty.
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“We are trying to build bridges, but we don’t know where we should build them to. Indeed, we can’t even see the river bank,” she said.
“That is what makes this pandemic so difficult. We still don’t know how it ends.”
Whereas the solution during the financial crisis of 2008 of making sure banks had liquidity was relatively straightforward to implement, the Chancellor said, this one was much less certain.
“I also don’t know what the virus will get up to,” she added, underlining the possibility that surprises such as new mutations could still be waiting around the corner.
Participants in the meeting told the Chancellor that more people were turning to crisis hotlines because they could not longer access support and advise in the personal surroundings.