The number of infections in Germany is still too high. Against this background, doubts are growing about the planned relaxation of contact restrictions at Christmas. Last week, federal and state governments agreed in principle to allow ten people plus children up to age 14 to attend family gatherings from December 23 to January 1. However, a number of federal states have already announced that they will no longer use this relaxation or at least shorten the period for it.
The German Association of Cities and Municipalities is also questioning the relaxation. “Depending on how the development is in the next ten days, the planned relaxation for Christmas and New Year’s Eve will have to be called into question again,” CEO Gerd Landsberg says of the “Handelsblatt”. “Because this relaxation will not only lead to more contacts, but also to more travel activities, which in turn can pose a risk.”
In Bavaria, according to the State Chancellery, the cabinet wants to advise on “further measures” on Sunday via video link. Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) has indicated that a tougher course is needed. The decision to extend the partial lockdown to January 10 is not sufficient to sustainably reduce the number of new infections. Söder also doubted whether the relaxation at the end of the year is still justified. According to reports, Bavaria wants to stick to it during the Christmas period.
Saarland Prime Minister Tobias Hans (CDU) spoke out in favor of tightening up the Corona rules after Christmas. “One thing is clear: we cannot take any risks, not even on New Year’s Eve. Therefore – if the numbers are still at this high level – we have to play it safe and return to the current strict Corona rules before New Year’s Eve,” said Hans. of the “Augsburger Allgemeine”.
Rhineland-Palatinate Prime Minister Malu Dreyer (SPD) called for “great restraint” in dealing with each other over Christmas and New Year’s Eve. “We will decide in the coming week what exactly the regulation for Christmas will look like,” Dreyer said, referring to the exact structure in the country.
Otherwise there was a risk of even higher infections in January and February
The SPD in the Bundestag is calling for contact restrictions not to be relaxed at Christmas if the number of corona infections persists. Bärbel Bas, deputy chairman of the parliamentary group responsible for health, told the German news agency: “If the figures remain at this high level until December 20, the measures should not be relaxed during the holidays. The current restrictions should then remain until January. Otherwise, the number of infections in January and February would have been even higher than today, requiring further restrictions.
Bas said the “lockdown light” had prevented a further increase in new corona infections. “The numbers have remained at a very high level for weeks.” The number of deaths has also increased. The burden on intensive care nurses is enormous, as is the case with the health authorities. They urgently need help. “The number of infections should decrease. “We have to monitor the development closely.”
The federal government wants to continue to relax
Vice-Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) called in the debate about tightening the rules to remain calm. Additional restrictions need to be carefully considered, the SPD politician told Deutschlandfunk.
The federal government wants to adhere to the planned relaxation of the protective measures at Christmas. “From our point of view, it is good to stick to the agreements for the Christmas holidays,” said government spokesman Steffen Seibert in Berlin on Friday. However, he also insisted on “careful and responsible behavior”.
The opportunity to meet up to ten people from different households again during the Christmas season is “not an invitation to do the same,” Seibert emphasizes. Everyone needs to think carefully about how to deal with it and “how to prevent Christmas from becoming a source of infection”. (dpa, AFP)