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Merkel promises to shore up German economy

October 31, 2020

As Germans took to the streets in opposition to coronavirus curbs, Chancellor Angela Merkel promised more help for businesses affected by the new lockdown.

Chancellor Angela Merkel wearing a mask
Image: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters Pool/dpa/picture alliance

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday assured businesses that they would receive additional support during the partial second-wave lockdown that begins next week.

In her weekly video podcast, Merkel said up to €10 billion ($11.6 billion) would be available to areas of the economy hit by the new coronavirus restrictions.

Her comments come amid concerns that thousands of firms may not survive a long winter lockdown, having already struggled to deal with the first wave of the pandemic despite unprecedented state support.

Read more: German economy bounces back to beat expectations

"Companies and businesses that have got into trouble through the current crisis through no fault of their own will not be left alone," Merkel said. "We want to help quickly and unbureaucratically."

She said the government would "continue to do everything necessary to limit the burden of the pandemic on the economy and thus also for jobs and our prosperity, while at the same time, protecting the health of all of us." 

Business leaders to grill chancellor

Merkel is due to hold talks on Wednesday with leading employers and industry associations to discuss "how we can further cushion the effects of the crisis."

Last week, the chancellor announced a one-month partial nationwide lockdown to try to stem a surge in coronavirus infections which threatens to overwhelm the health system.

From Monday German residents are again ordered to work from home, where possible, restaurants and bars and other entertainment venues will close and unnecessary travel is strongly discouraged.

The country on Saturday recorded another record number of daily infections, announcing 19,059 cases in the previous 24 hours.

The figures released by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for disease control showed that almost a thousand people have died over the past month, taking the death toll to 10,452.

Read more: Death, mourning and the coronavirus: 'No one should have to die alone'

Fresh demonstrations ahead of lockdown

Protests were held Saturday against the ongoing coronavirus curbs in Dresden, Karlsruhe, Darmstadt, Dusseldorf, Braunschweig and Munich.

Organizers of the Dresden rally — a group called Lateral Thinking — said several thousand protesters turned up.

As only 1,000 were registered, attempts were made to disperse people, many of whom did not wear masks.

In Karlsruhe, some 900 people joined a similar rally, which police threatened to shut down after attendees repeatedly failed to follow social-distancing guidelines.

Read more: Coronavirus: How the German military helps fight the pandemic

Theater staff in Munich created a human chain to highlight the severity of the measures' impact on their work.

They held ribbons to ensure social distancing, and underlined that they were not questioning the necessity of the restrictions but drawing attention to the needs of the arts sector.

Politicians have warned that an extension of the so-called lockdown light into December cannot be ruled out.

"It is very, very difficult to make long-term predictions," Helge Braun, minister in the chancellery, told newspaper Bild.

mm/nm (AFP, dpa)