Germany closing stores, tightening restrictions

Germany closing stores, tightening restrictions
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German officials announced stores in the nation will close again due to rising coronavirus cases.

Shops in the country will close their doors from Wednesday through at least Jan. 10, Reuters reported. Chancellor Angela Merkel made the announcement to the press after meeting with the country’s 16 state governors.

“I would have wished for lighter measures. But due to Christmas shopping the number of social contacts has risen considerably,” she said, according to the news service. “There is an urgent need to take action.”

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“‘Lockdown light’ has had an impact, but it was not sufficient,” Bavarian prime minister Markus Soder said, using a common term for the less strict measures that left shops and schools open. “The situation is out of control.”

Grocery stores, pharmacies and banks will remain open, but other retailers, as well as businesses such as salons and tattoo parlors, will be closed. Private gatherings will be restricted to a maximum of five people from more than one household, with a slight relaxation of the limit on Christmas.

Officials said they will provide 11 billion euros in subsidies per month to businesses affected by the order. Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said any shops that are forced to close may be given up to 90 percent of fixed costs as compensation.

Germany saw 20,200 new cases Sunday for a total of 1.32 million, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute. The country also saw a further 321 deaths for a total of 21,787.

The country imposed strict measures in the spring during the initial wave of the virus and had some of the lowest caseloads and death tolls in Europe. However, like numerous other European nations, it has seen its numbers surge in recent weeks, and public health officials have expressed concerns that cold weather will drive more people inside.