Regions announce wave of restrictions to curb Covid contagion

Berlin, Dec 8 (efe-epa).- A number of regional authorities in Germany on Tuesday announced new, tougher restrictions due to the evolution of the pandemic, which has stagnated at levels that health officials consider too high.

On Sunday, Bavaria announced tougher measures would be imposed to try to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

The new restrictions announced Tuesday come amid infection rates that are too high, according to the criteria set by the German government, and were revealed shortly after statements by chancellor Angela Merkel calling for more, tougher measures were leaked to the press.

During a video call with her CDU parliamentary group, Merkel complained that there was “too much talk of wine stands at Christmas markets” and “too little of nurses and health personnel” who are “under great pressure” in ICUs and care homes, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported.

“We will not be able to get through the winter without extraordinary measures,” said Merkel, who has for weeks been urging the leaders of the country’s federal states to take more coordinated steps to stop the spread of the pandemic, as the partial lockdown announced in early November has failed to control the contagion.

Saxony, currently one of the main hotspots, announced the closure of schools, nurseries and retail stores from Monday until January 10.

The head of the regional government, Michael Kretschmer, said hospitals in Saxony are “extremely overloaded” by Covid patients.

Neighboring Thuringia, meanwhile, has said that it will not relax the current restrictions on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, as was agreed in principle at the federal level at the end of November, due to the high number of infections.

In Baden-Württemberg, the head of the regional executive, Winfried Kretschmann, has put forward “drastic measures” for districts that exceed 300 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days, while the city-state of Berlin is considering closing stores and delaying the return from school holidays from January 4 to 11.

Rhineland-Palatinate has increased the number of cities with nighttime curfews to half a dozen, and North Rhine-Westphalia has relaxed the conditions under which day-care centers can operate during the pandemic so that they are not forced to close due to staffing or space problems.

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