Germany to go into full lockdown from Wednesday

(Updates info, adds details throughout)

Berlin, Dec 13 (efe-epa).- German chancellor Angela Merkel and the leaders of the country’s 16 federal states on Sunday approved tougher nationwide lockdown restrictions amid record-breaking coronavirus infection and death rates.

Germany set national records for the highest number of cases and deaths on Friday, and officials are warning that some of the country’s regional health systems are on the verge of becoming overwhelmed.

The new restrictions will force all non-essential shops to close, a bitter blow to retailers just before the Christmas holiday season, normally their busiest and most profitable time of the year.

The measures will be in effect from Wednesday until at least January 10.

“We are forced to act, and are acting now,” Merkel told a press conference after the meeting on Sunday.

Schools and kindergartens have been urged to send pupils home and continue teaching online, while employers have been encouraged to let people work from home.

With daycare centers also being forced to close, parents will be allowed to take paid vacation for childcaring purposes. The school holidays will also be extended until January 10.

There is also a ban on drinking alcohol in public, while celebrations to mark New Year’s – including fireworks displays – will not be allowed.

Religious services, however, will be permitted as long as hygiene and distancing measures are respected.

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