Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel said that “everyone has it in their own hands to make November a turning point.”
Merkel, who does not normally attend the regular Monday government press conferences, told journalists in Berlin that she had come today as it is a “very important day,” and that while most people are supportive of the partial-lockdown measures, there are also many who are skeptical.
Monday marked the first day of second wave COVID-19 lockdown in Germany.
“We are dependent on the majority of people participating …and thus saving lives,” Merkel said.
New restrictions include shutting down restaurants, bars, cinemas, gyms, theatres, and other public and leisure spaces. Only two households are allowed meet, up to a maximum of 10 people. Travel within Germany for leisure, and staying in hotels, is also forbidden.
Shops that can ensure distance between customers, as well as schools and kindergartens will remain open.
Merkel said that the spiralling numbers of new infections is a great worry to the government.
The Robert Koch Institute reported more that 12,000 new cases on Monday; last week the daily caseload surged over 19,000 for the first time ever.
Merkel said that the country’s health system was getting ever close to reaching its limit, hence the need for people to massively reduce their contacts and create a “circuit breaker” in this second wave of COVID-19.
“We must not allow the spread of the virus to overwhelm our health authorities," said Merkel. "The virus punishes half-heartedness. "
Currently, Germany has an average seven-day infection rate of almost 128 per 100,000 people. The goal of the November lockdown is to get this figure back down to 50 per 100,000, so health authorities could better track how infections are spreading. Currently, 75% of new infections cannot be traced.
Merkel said the government did not see a better or a milder way to tackle the new wave, but admitted it was difficult for people to give up the many things that makes life beautiful. “These measures are hard, I know that,” she said.
She said however that she could not guarantee that the new measures would definitely be lifted again at the start of December.
The German government said last week that it will spend up to €10bn (£9bn, $11.6bn) in immediate aid to compensate businesses that must close for a month. Merkel said on Monday that that money would be disbursed “quickly and unbureaucratically.”
The proposed compensation would see the government pay small companies 75% of lost revenue and bigger firms up to 70%, based on their sales in November last year.
WATCH: Germany enters ‘lockdown light’ in bid to curd COVID-19 second wave