Coronavirus: Germany restricts social life in ‘lockdown light’

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Germany has entered the first day of a month-long “lockdown light”, shutting restaurants, bars, gyms and entertainment venues, but keeping schools, shops and workplaces open.

The lockdown is not as restrictive as the March-April one, and food outlets can still provide takeaways.

The coronavirus infection rate is still rising in Germany, though not as dramatically as in France and Belgium, which are now in tighter lockdowns.

Italy is also planning tighter rules.

Under Germany’s new national measures, public meetings are restricted to 10 people maximum from two households. Private parties are banned.

There is some regional variation, as German states have a large degree of autonomy in public health. Hamburg, Lower Saxony and Berlin, for example, are exempting children under 12 from the two-households rule.

The latest official data from Germany’s respected Robert Koch Institute (RKI) shows 12,097 new infections in the past 24 hours, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 545,027 in Germany.

The totals for France, Spain and the UK – all with smaller populations than Germany – are all above a million.

On Saturday however, Germany recorded its highest daily total so far, with 19,059 cases.

Germany’s central government is helping small businesses with 50 or fewer staff, and the self-employed, who are hit especially hard by the lockdown: they can get a grant covering 75% of their normal turnover. The state is providing up to €10bn (£9bn) to cover this lockdown hardship, including some funding from the EU.

Under France’s more restrictive lockdown, people are only allowed to leave home to do the following: essential shopping; attend to medical needs; go to work if they really cannot work from home; go to school; or exercise outdoors for an hour maximum. For those activities, they have to carry a downloadable permit.

Shops in France are now only allowed to sell essential goods.

Chart tracking cases in five major European countries

What about the rest of Europe?

Italy is accelerating preparations for a further tightening of restrictions, but there is resistance to imposing a national lockdown, because of the struggling economy. Cinemas, swimming pools, theatres and gyms are closed, and food outlets have to stop table service by 18:00.

In Spain, staff at funeral homes went on strike on Sunday to demand more workers as coronavirus deaths continue to rise. It was All Saints’ Day, when families usually visit the graves of loved ones.

In Montenegro, thousands of people attended the funeral of the country’s leading religious figure, Archbishop Amfilohije Radovic, who died with coronavirus on Friday, aged 82.

Despite pleas from doctors to ban the funeral, his open coffin was paraded in front of crowds at the Serbian Orthodox cathedral in the capital, Podgorica. Some mourners even touched or kissed his head or hands.

Slovakia has tested about half of its population after announcing a plan to test everyone in the country over 10 years old.

Infections have soared in Slovakia, and officials argue the only alternative would be a total lockdown.

Defence Minister Jaroslav Nad confirmed that 2.58 million people took the test on Saturday. Of those, 25,850 have tested positive and must self-isolate.

Portugal is holding a day of national mourning for its Covid-19 victims: 2,544 have died there since the pandemic began in March. As elsewhere in Europe, the infection rate is rising, so a partial lockdown will take effect on Wednesday, covering 70% of the population, including Lisbon and Porto.


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