Chancellor Angela Merkel wears a protective face mask when leaving the country after speaking to the media at her annual summer press conference in Berlin on August 28, 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic.
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Chancellor Angela Merkel has vowed to avoid another full national lockdown as coronavirus infections in Germany are on the rise again.
Like its European neighbors, Germany has not been spared a second virus wave after the region's economies reopened in the summer. Although there has been no increase so far in cases like France, Spain and the UK.
While the UK reported 7,143 new cases and 71 deaths from the virus on Tuesday, the German health authority reported 2,089 new cases and 11 deaths.
Germany did not fare as badly compared to its neighbors in the first coronavirus outbreak and has been able to limit the number of deaths (there are still fewer than 10,000 – far fewer than the UK, Italy, France and Spain). But officials are not complacent about a second wave of cases.
"We want to act regionally, specifically and purposefully, instead of closing the whole country again – this must be prevented at all costs," said Merkel at a press conference on Tuesday after she had met with regional leaders, reported Deutsche Welle.
"We learned a lot and achieved good results all summer," said Merkel, but warned that rising cases before the fall and winter seasons would be problematic.
She warned that at the current infection rate in Germany, there could be more than 19,000 cases per day by the end of the year when she announced new restrictions, and reiterated existing guidelines on social distancing and personal hygiene, as well as strengthening the country's test-and -n Trace system.
"The underlying strategy remains to keep infections low enough to keep chains of infection possible. This is vital if schools and businesses are to stay open," said Greg Fuzesi, euro area economist JPMorgan on Tuesday.
He noted that the strategy had "three elements": a realignment on existing hygiene and distancing rules, the test-and-trace system and an improvement in the "hotspot strategy".
In the latter case, regions must limit the number of people admitted to private parties (to 50) if infections exceed 35 per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days. If the infections exceed 50 per 100,000 residents, only 25 people are allowed to meet at private events. Individuals can now also be fined 50 euros for providing incorrect contact information in restaurants and other indoor spaces that is required for tracking purposes.
Particular attention is paid to the spread of the community in Germany, with the Robert Koch Institute, a public health institution, noting that religious or family events such as weddings, as well as nursing homes and communal facilities have led to outbreak clusters in Germany as well as recurring travelers. Against this background, Germany is stepping up its test strategy to carry out quick tests in certain situations, for example for returning travelers.
Germany, along with its European counterparts, is reluctant to return to a national lockdown that could lead to further long-term economic damage. So far, European nations have opted for regional or very localized lockdowns, for example in parts of northern England and Madrid in Spain, or for the early closure of restaurants and restrictions on social gatherings.
Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg, noted on Wednesday that there are hopes that behavior changes such as sticking to face masks and more disciplined social distancing, along with more targeted restrictions "will be enough to turn the tide on the virus and prevent it a far widespread overloading of the health systems, which could otherwise force the countries to impose much tougher bans again. "
"The new wave of regional and targeted action across much of Europe is limiting social activity rather than the ability to work and shop," he noted.