German lockdown measures could last 'until the end of May or mid-June'
Germany may be facing a much longer shutdown, as new federal measures could last until the end of May or middle of June, reported Berlin’s Tagesspiegel on Monday.
Chancellor Angela Merkel's chief of staff Helge Braun (CDU) made it clear in a meeting with Germany’s 16 states on Sunday that the federal government could extend and strengthen current lockdown measures until the end of May or mid-June, according to the Tagesspiegel.
The move comes as part of a planned update to the Infection Protection Act, which aims to grant the federal government more control over regulations which previously were decided and enforced by the states.
According to a draft revision to the law, stricter measures would be put in place when there's a 7-day incidence of over 100 new infections per 100,000 residents lasting for over three days, as well as automatically for a 7-day incidence of over 200.
Based on the current infection rate around Germany, the government expects these measures to last several more weeks. The current shutdown, as decided on by Merkel and state leaders, was extended until April 18th at the last summit.
What might the new measures look like?
If there's a three-day long 7-day incidence of over 100, private gatherings would be restricted, there would be a nighttime curfew, and all businesses (with the exception of essential shops or businesses such as grocery stores) and cultural and recreational facilities would have to close again. Restaurants would remain closed except for take-out and delivery.
If the 7-day incidence rises above 200, schools and Kitas (daycare centres) would automatically be closed under the draft. State and local governments would no longer have any discretionary leeway.
About half of all rural and urban districts in Germany currently have 7-day incidences over 100.
Since the measures would be decreed by law and not by ordinance, anyone who wants to challenge the decisions in court would only be able to do so through the Federal Constitutional Court.
Several states have already argued that other criteria should be used in addition to the 7-day incidence value.
In addition, there are calls not to close stores completely, but to allow "click and collect," for example, a system which would allow people to shop by appointment only.
This is what the new draft measures in the Infection Protection Act specify:
- Hard, regional lockdown if the 7-day incidence threshold of 100 is exceeded for three days
- Private gatherings will be limited to members of a household and one other person
- Curfews from 9pm to 5am, with exceptions for emergencies or work-related reasons
- Sports will be very limited, with a maximum of two people
- All businesses must also close - with the exception of grocery stores, pharmacies, drugstores and gas stations.
- Cultural and leisure facilities such as zoos, swimming pools, museums, etc. will also have to close
- The catering trade will remain closed. Pick-up and delivery of food is allowed, however
- If the incidence level is below the level of 100 again for three days, the measures can be waived. If it is above that for three days, they come back into effect
- Schools and daycare centers may remain open only if the incidence is below 200. Even then, students may only attend classes if they test twice a week
The government is aiming to rush the law change through the Bundestag this week so it's not set in stone at this stage.