Germany to extend lockdown
Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to announce Germany will extend its lockdown until March 14 amid concerns over new strains of the coronavirus. A draft document emerged early on Wednesday outlining plans between Merkel and state officials to maintain the lockdown and to urge that citizens maintain social-distancing rules, but to gradually lift some restrictions in the coming weeks.
The number of new daily infections in Germany has been falling, leading some regional leaders to push for a timetable to ease the lockdown, but concerns are growing about the impact of more infectious strains of the virus on case numbers.
“We have a highly fragile situation,” Winfried Kretschmann, Greens premier of the southern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, told Spiegel Online. “We can see in other countries, such as Portugal, how quickly the tide can turn.” The current lockdown began in November and was extended and toughened before Christmas, with the number of COVID-19 patients threatening to overwhelm hospitals.
About 2.34 million people, or 2.8% of Germany’s population, have had a first shot and more than 1 million people a second, and the government has promised that everyone will have been offered a vaccine by Sept. 21.