German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said in an interview that Germany’s partial lockdown could extend into 2021 if coronavirus infections are not under control, Reuters reported.
In an interview with Die Welt published Saturday, Altmaier said that it was not possible to lift restrictions while there were more than 50 infections per 100,000 people in large parts of the country.
“We have three to four long winter months ahead of us,” he said, according to Reuters. “It is possible that the restrictions will remain in place in the first months of 2021.”
The “wave-breaker” shutdown was first announced Nov. 2, and saw the closures of bars, sports venues, restaurants and nightclubs, but not schools, hair salons or retailers.
The lockdown was originally set to last for four weeks; however, the nation’s 16 state governors have drawn up proposals to extend these measures through at least Dec. 20.
Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed with the leaders on Wednesday to extend and tighten the measures, Reuters notes.
Germany was initially hailed as a success story among western nations for its handling of the first wave of the virus in the spring. Since then, despite a resurgence in Europe, the country has kept its mortality rate below that of many of its neighbors.
There were 21,695 new confirmed infections in Germany, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases. The country has seen 1,028,089 cases since the pandemic began.
The World Health Organization said this week that the spread of the virus in Europe appears to have slowed. Even though the region accounts for 50 percent of all global new coronavirus deaths, new cases have fallen about 6 percent in the past week after falling 10 percent the week before.