Chancellor Angela Merkel and the sixteen German states’ government leaders have decided to extend the lockdown until March 28, despite intense pressure from society to stop strict corona measures.
For the population, the bitter pill is being greeted with a plan to relax the restrictive measures in five phases if there is a declining trend in the corona numbers.
The relaxation plan will take effect from next Monday, Merkel reported late in a press conference on Wednesday evening. The most radical contact restrictions are somewhat relaxed because up to 5 people again permit indoor gatherings with people from another household.
In regions where on average less than 35 infections per 100,000 inhabitants have been diagnosed in the last seven days, meetings with people from three households up to a maximum of 10 people are also allowed.
Merkel’s and state prime ministers’ plan includes an emergency brake on easing if the number of infections rises back above 100 per 100,000. The relaxation should be possible by speeding up vaccination and making more tests available. For example, German citizens can receive a free rapid test every week after Sunday. The vaccination program must be accelerated by having GPs also give injections.
The deliberations between Merkel and state prime ministers took much longer than planned due to disagreements over relaxation conditions. In the German system, the federal states largely determine the corona policy themselves. The current lockdown ends on Sunday, and a recent poll says that only 26 percent of the population is behind strict corona measures.