Germans urged to skip Christmas shopping

Germans urged to skip Christmas shopping
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German officials on Monday recommended citizens of the country avoid Christmas shopping as the government imposed new lockdown measures.

“I wish and I hope that people will only buy what they really need, like groceries,” Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said, according to The Associated Press. “The faster we get these infections under control, the better it is for everyone.”

Germany initially responded to the latest surge in coronavirus cases by imposing a “lockdown light” that eschewed several of the measures the country took in the spring, keeping schools and most shops open. However, the country on Wednesday will close schools again and close most businesses besides grocery stores and pharmacies.

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Officials will also limit indoor gatherings to five people over the age of 14, with the standards relaxed on Christmas.

“The virus still has a tight grip on us,” German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said. “The situation is bitterly serious: thousands of death cases in one week and an infection scenario that threatens to spin out of control. There is no way we can avoid drastic measures.”

Separately, Health Minister Jens Spahn called on the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to pick up the pace on approval of Pfizer and BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine, which has already been approved in the U.K. and the U.S. The EMA is set to meet on Dec. 29.

“This is also about the trust of the citizens in the European Union’s capacity to act,” Spahn said. “Every day that we can start sooner with the vaccinations lessens the suffering and protects those who are the most vulnerable.”

Spahn had previously expressed willingness to wait for the process to play out, but said Monday that the approval process should “take place as quickly as possible.”