Updated: Nov 1
Germany will enter a four-week circuit-breaker lockdown from Monday 2nd November, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced at a news conference in Berlin on Wednesday evening. The decision was made by the federal government and the country's 16 state premiers. The new measures, designed to limit contact and curb the rapid transmission rate of the coronavirus, are to be reviewed in two weeks’ time.
The nation’s second national lockdown has been referred to by the Chancellor as a “lockdown light”, a less intense version of the restrictions imposed earlier in the year. It will see the closure of restaurants and clubs, entertainment facilities including theatres and cinemas, as well as public recreation centres such as swimming pools, gyms and saunas.
Large events and crowds at sports matches will also be prohibited, and overnight stays in hotels will only be allowed in Germany for essential, non-tourist purposes.
While the country’s borders will not be closed, non-essential travel is strongly discouraged. Working from home should be favoured where possible.
Rules on meeting others will also change. Social gatherings will be restricted to just two households of up to 10 people.
Schools and nurseries, however, will remain open. As will shops, with one customer allowed per 10 square metres. Church services and protests will be allowed to continue due to constitutional concerns. Residents in nursing homes will be allowed visitors.
Merkel began the address by acknowledging that the nation finds itself at a serious stage in the pandemic, noting in particular the high speed at which the virus is currently spreading. "We are experiencing an exponential increase in numbers and figures, doubling even more rapidly", she said, reporting twice as many confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany compared to the previous week.
"We must act now, to avoid an acute national health emergency," she said. “Our health system can still cope with this challenge today, but at this speed of infection it will reach the limits of its capacity within weeks”.
The chancellor also expressed concerns regarding the uncertainty surrounding infection chains. Across Germany, the source of infection is unknown in 75% of cases.
On Wednesday, Germany confirmed a record 14,964 new coronavirus cases in one day, taking the national total to 449,275.
The country also reported 85 more virus-related deaths, raising its total to 10,259, data by the Robert Koch Institute showed.