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As Germany began its a partial November lockdown, Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that a difficult winter awaits. She called on Germans to follow the rules so the country would be able to have "a bearable December."
Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed Germans on Monday, answering reporters' questions and making her case for the partial four-week lockdown. Merkel urged for full compliance with new restrictions in order to achieve a "turnaround" in the fight against the pandemic.
''We will try to do everything politically so that this is limited to November,'' Merkel said.
But she warned that success is also "dependent on the cooperation, acceptance and understanding of the people in our country for this to work."
"It's in everyone's own hands to make this November a joint success, a turnaround," she told reporters during a news conference.
Merkel took a serious tone in explaining why the government had closed restaurants, bars, cultural and leisure activities. She said the number of new infections within 14 days had tripled, while the number of intensive care patients doubled in ten days and continues to rise.
The chancellor warned that Germany is currently experiencing exponential growth in the number of new infections, "which is leading us towards an acute emergency situation in our hospitals."
Moreover, Merkel said that there were more and more people "who are infected and walk around without having been warned" because the health authorities can no longer keep up with the contact tracing.
If the lockdown fulfills its goal of curbing the virus spread in November, "then we are creating conditions to have a bearable December, of course still with corona-rules … but with more leeway," she said. But she warned that even if the country is able to gain control over the current spike in coronavirus infections, the pandemic is far from over.
"Throughout the winter months, we will have to limit private contacts," she said. "The light at the end of the tunnel is still far away," Merkel added, noting that Germans will likely need to continue to be patient through the middle of March next year.
Parties and large events will still be banned after November, according to the chancellor. But family reunions for Christmas would be allowed, provided that the number of infections is under control.
"It will be a Christmas under coronavirus conditions, but it should not be a lonely Christmas," Merkel said. At the same time, she ruled out "lavish New Year's Eve parties."
Merkel addressed the closure of the restaurants and bars in November, addressing fears that businesses would face losses. The chancellor tried to reassure affected business owners that the government would help with compensation.
The federal government had already appropriated emergency aid of ten billion euros, Merkel said, promising the aid would be distributed quickly and without bureaucratic hurdles.
Read more: Culture sector shocked as new lockdown looms
But Merkel also acknowledged the entertainment and cultural industries, such as theaters and cinemas, saying that the government understood their value and would financially support their losses as well.
On November 16, Merkel and the heads of the federal states are set to meet again to review the number of infections and the seven-day incidence per 100,000 inhabitants, to determine the path forward and assess whether the lockdown is working or if further measures are needed.
jcg/dj (dpa, Reuters, AFP)