Following a meeting with the country’s 16 state premiers on Wednesday, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced an extension of the current lockdown measures until at least March 28, whilst relaxing some restrictions as of next week. 

“These should be steps toward opening but at the same time steps that do not set us back,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin after the meeting, which lasted around nine hours and during which, she laid out the government’s five-step plan to ease restrictions. 

“There are a great many examples in Europe of a dramatic third wave,” she added. 

The plan foresees the reassessment of measures every 14 days, depending on the progress of the regional infection numbers, Deutsche Welle reported. If regions record three consecutive days with an incidence rate above 100 per 100,000 people per week, an “emergency brake” will return them to current lockdown levels. 

“If there is an incidence of 100 between one opening step and the next, and this is the case for three consecutive days, then one has to go back to this step two days later,” the German Chancellor said. 

She noted, however, that regions with relatively low infection rates will be able to open non-essential stores, museums and other facilities on a limited basis, as the country now has two precious weapons; vaccines and tests. 

Under the new measures, florists, book stores and garden centers will be allowed to reopen as of March 8, while concerning the so-called “social bubble”, up to five people from two different households will be permitted to meet. However, households were urged to keep “the number of households with which such gatherings occur as constant and small as possible” or to have “all participants self-test prior to the gathering.” 

The five-step opening strategy also includes one free rapid test per week for all residents of Germany.

“Spring 2021 will be different from spring a year ago”, Merkel pledged. 


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