Germany Flags Need to Continue Restrictions Beyond This Week

Germany needs to keep coronavirus restrictions in place for the time being as new infections are likely to remain above the government’s target in coming days, according to Health Minister Jens Spahn.

Germany’s contagion rate is “coming down, and it’s coming down in an encouraging way,” Spahn told reporters on Monday after Chancellor Angela Merkel chaired the latest meeting of her coronavirus cabinet.

“But as things stand, it’s certainly not the case that everything can be the same again from Feb. 15 as it was in October,” he added, referring to the period before the current three-month shutdown.

Merkel, senior ministers and the 16 state premiers are due to hold talks Wednesday to discuss the next steps in Germany’s battle against the pandemic. They’re expected to extend the restrictions in place now -- including closing schools and non-essential stores and limits on movement -- beyond their Feb. 14 expiry date until at least the end of this month, but may also map out a timetable for a partial easing.

Merkel said Monday at a meeting of her CDU party that infections need to continue falling for at least two more weeks, according to a person familiar with the discussion who asked not to be identified.

She also warned that around a fifth of Germany’s virus cases could be a more contagious U.K. variant, considerably more than the 6% indicated in studies up to now, the person said.

Germany Flags Need to Continue Restrictions Beyond This Week

The government has said the seven-day incidence rate per 100,000 people needs to come down to 50 or below and stay there to even consider loosening curbs.

The rate has declined steadily since peaking at nearly 200 before Christmas, but edged up again Monday to 76, from 75.6, according to the latest estimate from the RKI public-health institute.

As the infection rate eases from the highs seen at the turn of the year, Merkel’s government has come under fire for the relatively slow pace of its vaccine rollout, after deciding to source the shots jointly through the European Union.

Germany and the wider EU have each administered about 3.8 doses per 100 people, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. That compares with almost 13 in the U.S. and nearly 20 in Britain, although both nations started their vaccination campaigns several weeks earlier.

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