Germany extends coronavirus lockdown until March 7
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the country’s 16 governors have decided to largely extend the country’s coronavirus lockdown until March 7 amid concern that new virus variants could reverse a decline in new confirmed cases, according to AP.
According to their agreement, many facets of the current lockdown, which were due to expire on Feb. 14, will be extended but there will be some exceptions made — including allowing hairdressers to reopen their businesses on March 1, albeit with strict hygiene regulations.
Germany’s second lockdown began in November and was extended and toughened before Christmas due to concern that the number of COVID-19 patients could overwhelm hospitals.
With the extension, bars, restaurants and most stores will remain closed, among other things.
On Wednesday, Germany's Robert Koch Institute reported the country had 8,072 new virus cases and 813 deaths in 24 hours. In all, Germany has seen more than 63,000 confirmed virus deaths during the pandemic.
The weekly number of new infections has dropped to 68 per 100,000 inhabitants. The government’s goal is to push the number below 50 to enable reliable contact-tracing. It peaked at nearly 200 just before Christmas.
Merkel noted that the infection rate had dropped from 110 in just over two weeks and added that the government’s key target was “in sight.”
“We can be very satisfied,” said Merkel, expressing thanks to those who had helped drive down numbers by respecting lockdown rules and refraining from travel and unnecessary contacts.
But she warned that the new virus variants posed the risk of a “third wave” that could only be prevented if authorities were able to once again track and trace all new cases.