Angela Merkel has said she does not have backing among state leaders for new restrictions to give Germany’s “soft” lockdown a harder bite, postponing any decision until a further meeting between the chancellor and 16 state premiers next week.
The chancellor had been in favour of people limiting social interactions in private to only one set second household, and forgo any kind of party until Christmas Eve, according to a draft proposal cited by several news outlets including Der Spiegel.
The plans were also reported to include advising citizens to quarantine at home for up to seven days, even if they display only the symptoms of an ordinary cold, and tightening hygiene requirements at schools, with teachers and students of all year groups asked to wear face masks throughout lessons.
“I could have imagined imposing further contact restrictions today, but there was no majority for that,” Merkel said after the meeting. She added there was a need for greater social distancing.
Germany entered a partial “lockdown light” on 2 November, with contacts reduced to a maximum of two households and no more than 10 people, restaurants and bars closed apart from for takeaways, and unnecessary travel discouraged but not banned. Schools and nurseries have stayed open.
“The numbers are starting to stabilise,” the German news agency dpa quoted Merkel as telling party colleagues over the weekend. “But too slowly.”
Austria, Germany’s Alpine neighbour, is heading into a second full lockdown on Tuesday after recording an average of 7,000 daily cases last week, one of the highest per-capita rates in the world.
Sebastian Kurz, the Austrian chancellor, said on Saturday that schools and non-essential shops would remain closed from midnight on Monday.
Exceptions are in place for food stores, pharmacies, banks and post offices. Nurseries and schools for younger pupils will be open only to those requiring childcare.
A night-time curfew will be expanded throughout the day, permitting citizens to leave their homes only for essential trips related to work, shopping or exercise.