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Germany to get Christmas reprieve but coronavirus restrictions continue – POLITICO

BERLIN — Germany’s coronavirus restrictions will continue into the new year but be slightly eased over the festive period, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday.

“We need another effort: patience, solidarity, discipline are being put to a hard test,” said Merkel following a seven-hour videoconference with the leaders of Germany’s 16 regions to discuss the restrictions.

Until December 20, meetings with friends and relatives are limited to one other household, and up to a maximum of five people, while bars, restaurants and gyms will remain closed.

Schools will remain open, Merkel said, though in areas with high infection rates special measures can be introduced.

For the Christmas period, Merkel said regional leaders had agreed to allow up to 10 people to meet, with young children not included in that number, from December 23 until January 1 at the latest.

It remains likely that restrictions will continue into 2021, she said. Another meeting to assess the restrictions will be held before Christmas.

On Wednesday, the Robert Koch Institute, the country’s disease control center, reported 18,633 new cases nationwide with 410 deaths. If the current rate of infection persists, Germany will pass 1 million total cases at the weekend.

“Behind the statistics there are human destinies, lives that end much too early,” said Merkel.

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