Germany, on Tuesday, has extended its nationwide coronavirus lockdown until Jan. 31 and put tougher measures to fight a second wave of the pandemic.
“We need to reduce contacts further because we have seen that we have not been able to lower the incidence (of coronavirus) in the last (few) weeks as far as we would have wished for,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday.
As per the new lockdown protocols, schools, daycares and all non-essential shops will remain closed until at least Jan. 31 nationwide.
In those areas, where number of infections are above 200 per 100,000 people, local authorities would be able to ban citizens from traveling beyond a 15 km radius of their place of residence.
Private gatherings continued to be limited to one’s own household and only to one person from another household.
The government’s tougher measures came after Germany reported a record number of coronavirus infections and deaths in recent weeks.
The official coronavirus death toll in the country has reached 35,518, 944 in the last 24 hours.
Despite extraordinary measures taken in recent months to contain the outbreak, Germany was far from meeting its goal of reducing new infections to less than 50 per 100,000 people.
The Robert Koch Institute said the incidence rate was 134.7 cases per 100,000 people over a seven-day period, nearly three times the government target.
Germany hopes to limit the spread of the virus until a sufficient portion of its population has been vaccinated against COVID-19 to achieve herd immunity.
It started with vaccinations on December 27, but the media and some officials criticized the government for getting off to a slow start and ordering fewer doses. By Tuesday around 317,000 of Germany’s 83 million inhabitants had received a shot.
“Perhaps the expectation has been raised that as much vaccine is available as we need and we just have to give the shots. That won’t be the case in the first quarter,” said Merkel.
The country has the fifth-highest number of COVID-19 infections in Western Europe after the UK, France, Italy and Spain.
The national total of Covid-19 cases is now over 1.78 million cases with at least 35,518 deaths.