Days before Germany enters a lockdown, closing retailers and schools across the country, the government is asking citizens to refrain from «last minute» holiday shopping and to attend Christmas mass online.
“I wish and I hope that people will only buy what they really need, like groceries,” Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said Sunday, The Associated Press reports. “The faster we get these infections under control, the better it is for everyone.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel and the governors of Germany’s 16 states agreed Sunday to step up the country’s lockdown measures beginning Wednesday and running to January 10 to stop the exponential rise of COVID-19 cases since the country has been hitting records of new daily infections and virus deaths in recent weeks.
Schools nationwide will be closed, most non-food stores will be shuttered and restaurant takeout will still be permitted, but no eating or drinking can take place on site.
With the exception of Christmas, the number of people allowed to meet indoors will remain restricted to five, not including children under 14.
Hospitals across Germany have repeatedly warned they are reaching their limits in caring for COVID-19 patients. On Monday, 4,552 COVID-19 patients were being treated in ICUs.
Now, Germany’s health minister is demanding that the European Union’s regulatory agency work faster to approve a coronavirus vaccine and bring an ease to the suffering on his continent.