Berlin The partial lockdown is not over yet. People in Germany must hold out at least until December 20, and in some cases there are even tighter measures now in place. Also, new rules for rapid testing are to support the fight against the pandemic.
More stringent restrictions on social contacts in December, a loosening of restrictions over Christmas - the new corona rules adopted by the federal and state governments came into force in most German states on Tuesday, December 1.
Restaurants, theaters and leisure facilities will remain closed. Private gatherings are now limited to a maximum of five people from your own and one other household. Children under 14 years of age are not included in this number. This is in contrast to November, when gatherings with up to ten people from two households were still permitted.
The partial lockdown already in force will be extended until December 20. "We need a renewed effort," Chancellor Angela Merkel emphasized last week after discussions with the State Premiers.
The continuation of the existing measures is intended to prevent the overburdening of hospitals. "The number of patients is still rising, but not as sharply as two weeks ago. If this continues, the situation would be manageable for the hospitals", the President of the German Hospital Federation, Gerald Gaß, told the "Passauer Neue Presse" (Tuesday).
Currently, almost 40 percent more patients are being treated in intensive care units nationwide than in spring, Gaß said. "The second wave of the pandemic is already hitting the hospitals harder. There are also more patients in the normal wards at the moment. This is because progress in therapies is making it possible to prevent a number of coronavirus patients from having to go to the intensive care unit and be put on a ventilator. Overall, the burden on hospitals is very high.”
More rapid testing could be used in the future in the fight against the pandemic - in nursing homes, hospitals and also in schools when cases have been reported. This is provided for in a new ordinance issued by German Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU), which is to come into force this Wednesday. Rapid tests will now also be available from emergency medical services and outpatient clinics. For those returning from coronavirus high risk areas abroad, Covid-19 tests will no longer be free of charge after entering Germany - this privilege runs out on December 15, as the German Press Agency learned from the Ministry.
Rapid tests are now available in larger quantities. Samples do not have to be sent to laboratories for evaluation. However, these antigen tests are not considered to be as accurate as PCR tests and they must be approved by medically trained personnel. According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), a positive result of a rapid test must be confirmed by a PCR test.
The rules that apply from Tuesday onwards will be slightly relaxed for the days around Christmas. From December 23, at the longest until January 1, the plan is that ten people from a circle of family and friends should be allowed to gather.
As in November, schools and daycare centers will remain open. Masks are mandatory during instruction starting from the seventh grade - depending upon the regional coronavirus statistics. Pupils who test positive and their classmates are to be immediately placed in a five-day quarantine. Anyone who then tests negative may end the quarantine.
The maximum number of customers in large stores is also subject to greater restrictions since December 1. In stores with a sales area of up to 800 square meters, there should be no more than one person per 10 square meters of sales area. In larger stores, the additional space may be occupied by a maximum of one person per 20 square meters of sales area.
Some states may have a variation of the rules. Berlin, for example, has announced that only five people are allowed to come together over the holidays. Schleswig-Holstein, on the other hand, is sticking to its ten-person contact rule even before Christmas.
The number of new coronavirus cases on Tuesday was at the same level as the previous week. The Robert Koch Institute recorded 13,604 cases within 24 hours, compared to 13,554 on Tuesday. Within one day, 388 people died in connection with the virus - the fourth highest number since the beginning of the pandemic. This means that the RKI counts a total of 1,067,473 confirmed corona infections in Germany. 16,636 people have died from or as a result of a proven infection with Sars-CoV-2.
Orig. text: dpa