German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced new measures on Monday to try to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in Germany.
Non-essential businesses and shops will shut down, while religious gatherings will be prohibited and holiday travel will grind to a halt.
“There have never been measures like this in our country before,” Merkel announced. “They are far-reaching, but at the moment they are necessary.”
Supermarkets, pharmacies, petrol stations, banks, post offices, delivery services, drycleaners and hairdressers will be among the businesses that will remain open.
Don’t plan holidays
The announcement came as Germany essentially closed its borders to Austria, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg and Denmark.
Key among the new restrictions is the ban on holiday travel. Overnight accommodation in Germany must be deemed essential. Non-Germans who are not resident without a valid reason will be refused entry at the borders.
“There shouldn’t be any holiday trips undertaken inside the country or outside it,” Merkel said. Deutsche Bahn, Germany’s primary train operative, is expected to limit regional and local services starting immediately.
Thousands of schools and kindergartens also closed down on Monday. Playgrounds and other outdoor recreation centers will also be shut down or closed off.
Many people will work from home and have been advised to practice “social distancing” — removing themselves from social situations as much as possible to stop the virus from spreading.
“Reduce your social life as much as possible,” a representative of the Germany’s disease control agency, the Robert Koch Institute, urged on Monday.
It is hoped that these measures may contain the spread of COVID-19, especially to those in the high-risk group.
ed/ng (AFP, dpa)