One more month of “hard closure” in Germany and one more month of bars, restaurants and shops closed. Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and the prime ministers of the 16 federal states agreed on Tuesday to extend until February 14 the severe restrictions in force throughout the country from December 16 to combat the coronavirus and also established the obligation to wear masks medical safety FFP2 in public transport and in shops of basic necessities. It will not be allowed to take the bus or the subway or to make purchases with masks of lower levels of protection such as homemade ones. While these decisions were being leaked to the press, Merkel and the heads of government of the “Länder” were still discussing the situation in the schools and the possibility of maintaining their closure also for the next four weeks.
In addition, the federal and federal executives agreed to the drafting of a decree by the Ministry of Labor to demand that companies make teleworking as possible as possible to reduce personal contacts to the essential. When the presence in the workplace is required, employers must provide their employees with FFP2 type masks. And in order to avoid crowds in public transport at peak times, the national and regional governments of Germany demanded flexible hours for their operators and office workers from companies.
Although the numbers of infections and deaths due to the Sars-Cov-2 virus begin to decline slowly in Germany thanks to the measures taken so far, the fear of the effects of the mutation detected in the United Kingdom has made the authorities even more extreme precautions. The incidence of the virus in Germany is currently 140 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in a week, much lower than the 480 cases that are currently registered in Spain or the 465 in Great Britain, but far from the 50 that the health authorities of This country has established the maximum bearable level before intervening with massive restrictive measures in order to avoid saturation of the hospitals.
The education ministers of the ‘Länder’ acknowledge that the closure of schools for such a long time is a catastrophe for children and young people even if they receive distance classes, but there are growing indications that variant B.1.1.7 of the virus it spreads with greater force among minors and its spread in this way threatens adults. It is certain that there will be exceptions of face-to-face classes for those courses that lead to the end of an educational cycle and care in nurseries for the children of those parents who have to go to work in strategic professions.
In any case, what the German authorities want with the extension of the “hard closure”, a greater promotion of teleworking and the increase in restrictions on public transport and commerce is to further limit the possibilities of interpersonal contacts, which are found already reduced to the minimum imaginable. Currently and since the beginning of the year, all contact with more than one person outside one’s home in open or closed spaces is prohibited. Merkel and the regional prime ministers, who brought their appointment one week ahead of the initially scheduled date, however, could not agree to establish a national curfew, although those that are dictated temporarily in localities or regions with an index of very high infections.
Especially dramatic is the situation of gastronomy and hospitality, which has suffered the closure of bars, restaurants, hotels and holiday homes since last November 2. If as of mid-February the restrictions they suffer are eased, they will have been closed without interruption for three and a half months. According to the German Association of Hospitality and Gastronomy (Dehoga), 75.5% of the companies in the sector see their survival threatened and 24.9% of them are already studying their final closure despite the aid they receive from the state to overcome this crisis. In the same situation are the cultural and sports leisure centers, from museums, theaters or operas to gyms, swimming pools or sports clubs.