German Chancellor Angela Merkel has ordered tougher Covid-19 restrictions after the existing measures failed to stop the spread of infections.
The new rules will take effect on December 16 and last until January 10. All non-essential shops and services, like hair salons, will be shuttered. Schools are urged to send students home and continue lessons online, while employers are asked to allow workers to work remotely.
Daycare centers will also close, but parents will be able to take paid holidays in order to look after their children. People will be banned from drinking alcohol in public and buying fireworks for New Year’s Eve.
“We were forced to act and are acting now,” Merkel told reporters, explaining that the existing measures were “not enough.”
The health system is under heavy strain and our aim has always been to avoid an overloading of the healthcare system.
Finance Minister Olaf Scholz promised that affected businesses would get up to €500,000 ($605,000) in state aid.
Germans have been living under a partial national lockdown, and it was widely expected that tougher restrictions would be announced.
Read more: Non-essential services shut, no drinking in public & no fireworks: Germany rolls out tougher Covid-19 rules after previous ones failed to stop rise of ‘cases’ from a test not testing for the ‘virus’