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Coronavirus: Germany to extend lockdown by 3 weeks — reports

January 4, 2021

German state leaders and Chancellor Angela Merkel are meeting to discuss the current coronavirus lockdown. Media reports indicate restrictions will be extended for three weeks until January 31.

Deutschland Coronavirus Schild Maskenpflicht
Image: Martin Meissner/AP Photo/picture alliance

Extended lockdown in Germany?

The German government and the majority of Germany's 16 federal states are set to agree to extend lockdown measures until January 31 to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, various German media reported on Monday. 

The extension of the lockdown is expected to be officially announced on Tuesday following a video conference at 2 p.m. local time (1300 UTC) between Chancellor Angela Merkel and the 16 state premiers.

"Given that infection rates are still too high, it will be necessary to extend the restrictions," news agency AFP reported on Tuesday, citing Health Minister Jens Spahn.

Current restrictions not working

Tight restrictions keeping stores, schools and services closed have been in place across Germany since December 16, 2020. They were due to end on January 10. However, the continuing high incidence of new coronavirus cases and deaths has pressed leaders to extend the restrictions. 

On Tuesday, the nation's Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for disease control recorded 11,897 new infections and 944 deaths over the last 24-hour period.

The current seven-day incidence, which measures how many people have been infected per 100,000, is 139.6.

This is far above the figure of 50 infections per 100,000 that the government has set for the possible lifting of restrictions.

Lockdown severity may be increased

DW's chief political editor Michaela Küfner said that there was also speculation in German media that Merkel and state leaders may also announce tougher restrictions along with an extension:

"The tightening that is being discussed is already in place in some particularly effected regions like Saxony where people are not allowed to leave their homes outside a radius of 15 kilometers (9.3 miles), while in the rest of the country we have not really seen that kind of lockdown."

"Now we might see a shift into a legal requirement to basically stay put and not move around," she said.

"We are already all taking it for granted that the lockdown we are seeing a the moment will be extended until the end of January, which in most states leads into that school break that follows," Küfner said.

"School children look very likely to remain at home," she added. Keeping daycare and schools closed is supposedly a sticking point between different state leaders.

Disagreements over length

State premiers had reportedly agreed that the current lockdown should be extended during a video conference on Saturday, according to reports in Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper.

But they were said to be split on the length of the extension. Premiers of the hardest-hit states were allegedly arguing for a three-week extension, while premiers of less-impacted states maintained a two-week extension was long enough.

Michael Kretschmer, premier of Saxony, the state with the highest infection rates in the country, said a continued shutdown was "unavoidable."

kmm/rt (AFP, dpa, Reuters)