Pedestrians in Berlin. Government has appealed to citizens to stay at home and reduce social contact to an absolute minimum as prescribed by the existing regulations/Photo: AfricanCourierMedia

Essential information about the lockdown extension in Germany

Because of the persistently high coronavirus infection rates in the country, Germany’s state and federal governments resolved on Tuesday to extend the lockdown rules in the country. In addition to the extension of the shutdown, the latest resolution also contains an expansion of the containment measures.

Accordingly, the current lockdown regulations, which have been in effect since 16 December and planned to end on 10 January, will now be in place until 31 January, and new, additional stringent rules have been introduced.

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Here are the highlights of the resolution of the video conference of the Federal Chancellor with the heads of government of the Länder (federal states) on 5 January 2021:

– All measures in force and limited until 10 January 2021 are extended until 31 January 2021. The Federal Chancellor and the heads of government of the states urge all citizens to keep all contacts to the absolute minimum over the next three weeks and to stay at home as much as possible.

– The previously applicable contact restrictions are tightened once again; private gatherings are permitted among members of one’s own household and a maximum of one other person not living in the household.

– Employers are urged to create generous home office options for their employees to be able to implement the “We stay at home” principle nationwide.

– In districts with a 7-day incidence of more than 200 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants (the so-called coronavirus hotspots), the states will take further local measures under the Infection Protection Act, in particular to restrict the radius of movement of persons in the district to 15 km around the place of residence. Day trips explicitly do not constitute a valid reason. Currently, the 7-day incidence is over 100 in about three quarters of the 410 rural and urban districts (Landkreise/Stadtkreise) in the country. This means that there have been more than 100 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last seven days. More than 70 rural/urban districts have an incidence of over 200.

– The closure of schools and childcare facilities is extended until the end of January in accordance with the decision of 13 December 2020.

– For entries from high-risk areas to Germany: In addition to the existing ten-day quarantine obligation, which can be terminated with a negative result of a corona test carried out on the fifth day of quarantine at the earliest, a testing obligation on entry is to be introduced (two-test strategy). The obligation to test on entry can be fulfilled by testing within 48 hours before arrival or by testing immediately after entry.

– The federal and state governments, once again, emphasise that travel to high-risk areas without a valid reason must be avoided at all costs and that, in addition to the obligation to test and quarantine, there is an obligation to register digitally when entering from high-risk areas.

– On the ongoing vaccination campaign, it’s assured that by mid-February, at the latest, all residents of inpatient care facilities will be offered vaccination. “This is an important first interim goal of the vaccination campaign, not least because of the high number of cases and the severe courses [of the disease] in these facilities”.

– The Federal Chancellor and the heads of government of the federal states will consult again on 25 January 2021 and decide on the measures from 1 February 2021.

On Wednesday, Germany reported 21,237 new coronavirus infections within 24 hours. Just over 1,000 deaths were logged within that time, according to the Robert Koch Institute, the country’s centre for disease control and prevention.

Meanwhile, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has approved the US-developed Moderna vaccine in the EU for use against coronavirus infection. It is the second  vaccine to be rolled out across the bloc. Mass vaccination against the coronavirus began in Germany on 27 December with the use of the vaccine developed by German firm BioNTech and American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, known by the brand-name Comirnaty. The vaccine has proven to be 95% effective against COVID-19 in global trials.

Femi Awoniyi

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