EXPLAINED: These are Germany's planned new lockdown measures
On Monday Chancellor Angela Merkel was set to meet with the 16 state leaders for a new round of talks on lockdown measures. With the Covid-19 case rate going up rapidly, more restrictions are expected. A leaked draft from Merkel's office shows what's planned.
Monday's coronavirus numbers published by the Robert Koch Institute didn't make for pretty reading. The 7-day incidence had shot up again to 107.3 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. With the third wave in the background, a new series of tough measures are expected to be announced on Monday evening.
A leaked document has revealed what Angela Merkel wants from the talks, but she will have to persuade the state leaders to come with her.
Lockdown well into April
Merkel and state leaders agreed to extend the current lockdown measures until April 18th, according to media outlets presents. They would next meet on April 12th to discuss next steps.
Emergency brake gets tougher
After several local governments have rebelled against the "emergency brake" - a clause in the last agreement that mandates a return to lockdown if the 7-day incidence rises above 100 - Merkel wants the brake to be pulled tighter this time around.
Its implementation must be "consequently applied" her proposal states. Meanwhile, it would now also have to be enacted if a district has exponential growth below an incidence of 100.
And this could be the headline news: a new term of the emergency brake is a night-time curfew that would go on until 5am. When it starts will have to be negotiated. This paragraph is in parenthesis, which suggests that Merkel knows it will meet with resistance.
Schools and Kitas
The opening of schools and Kitas (day-care centres) would be conditional primarily upon test capabilities and not on incidence levels, according to the draft.
Schools and nurseries that do not have enough tests to check their children and teachers twice a week would have to be closed or would not be allowed to open.
This should make it possible to keep schools to stay open up to a 7-day incidence of 200. Above that number they would have to close and start distance learning again.
Travel from abroad
Merkel wants to discuss the possibility of testing everyone who arrives in Germany from abroad, regardless of where they come from. But her office seems unsure of whether this plan will make it into the final agreement. The paragraph contains a note that "this must be checked."
Domestic travel will continue to be discouraged.
Each state is to pick out a region with low case numbers and test whether aspects of public life can be reopened using testing and contact tracing apps.
The proposal states that: "necessary conditions [for these pilot projects] are negative test results as an access requirement, IT-supported contact tracing and, if necessary, also for test verification, close feedback to the public health authorities, and clear discontinuation criteria in case of failure."
Without "significantly restrictive measures" the number of new infections will rise so quickly that an overload of the health system is "likely as early as April", the draft states.
Due to the fact that progress on the vaccination rollout has been slow, the paper calls for "strict containment of the incidence of infection in the coming weeks". This, it says, will lead to an "earlier return to normality and shorter restrictions overall and is thus warranted for health, economic and social reasons."
Testing in the office
The draft states that companies should allow employees to work from home wherever possible. But in the event that staff still come into work, they need to be provided with an antigen test at least once a week.
Germany's coronavirus app is to be expanded in April with further functions, including an anonymous "event registration". This allows users to digitally check in at an event such as a private birthday party or restaurant.
In case of a positive case, all participants will be warned after the event.