German bars and restaurants could close in circuit break lockdown

28 October 2020, 12:43

German Chancellor Angela Merkel looks sideways wearing a face mask
The chancellor warned this week that Germany could soon be in a “difficult position” with regards to the number of intensive care beds. Picture: Getty

By Joe Cook

Chancellor Angela Merkel is pushing for Germany to introduce a circuit break lockdown in November - closing bars, restaurants and leisure facilities, but keeping schools open.

In an online meeting with the regional leaders, who largely set their own coronavirus rules, Mrs Merkel is expected to make the case for a ‘lockdown-lite’, as cases rise across Europe.

The chancellor warned this week that Germany could soon be in a “difficult position” with regards to the number of intensive care beds.

On Tuesday the Robert Koch Institute, the country’s disease control agency, reported 11,409 new cases in 24 hours, almost twice as many as the previous week.

German newspaper Deutsche Welle reports that two weeks ago, when infection rates were around 2,000 per day, Chancellor Merkel was accused of fear mongering for warning that Germany could see 19,000 daily cases by Christmas.

Coronavirus related deaths in the country have also risen, with 85 Covid-19 deaths in the last 24 hours.

In addition to closing hospitality venues, Chancellor Merkel is also pushing for people to only be able to socialise with members of one other household, with gyms, cinemas and theatres also shuttered.

Although the decision will depend on the outcome of discussions with local leaders, German paper Bild reports the restrictions are likely to be implemented from November 4th to the end of the month.

Ahead of the meeting the Chancellor’s spokesperson, Steffen Seibert, said everyone involved in discussions was aware that “every day counts”.

Some leaders have pushed for the German government to go further, with the deputy leader of Mrs Merkel’s CDU party, Thomas Strobl, telling Pioneer news website that they should consider “closing down everything” for a week.

However, business leaders representing hotels and travel operators have warned more than half of their sector could be bankrupted, The Times reports.

The rise in cases in Germany comes as governments across Europe are facing even greater increases in cases and deaths.

French President Emmanuel Macron is also holding discussions on Wednesday to decide on tougher restrictions in the country as cases surge.

The president is expected to announce a second national lockdown during a televised address to the nation at 8pm on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, France reported more than 33,400 new cases and 523 coronavirus deaths in 24 hours, though the true number is thought to be 100,000 cases per day.

Intensive care patients have increased to 2,918, more than half of the country's overall capacity of 5,800.