Coronavirus: Germany restricts social life in ‘lockdown light’
Germany has entered the first day of a month-long “lockdown light”, shutting restaurants, bars, gyms and entertainment venues, but keeping schools, shops and workplaces open.
The lockdown is not as restrictive as the March-April one, and food outlets can still provide takeaways.
The coronavirus infection rate is still rising in Germany, though not as dramatically as in France and Belgium, which are now in tighter lockdowns.
Italy is also planning tighter rules.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte proposed curbs on travel to high-risk areas and an earlier night-time curfew. Museums and exhibitions would shut and shopping centres would close at weekends, under the plans now to be discussed in parliament.
Cinemas, swimming pools, theatres and gyms are already closed, and food outlets have to stop table service by 18:00.
Mr Conte warned that intensive care units could be overwhelmed by December. But Italy wants to avoid another full lockdown because of the economic cost.
As in Italy’s March crisis, the worst-hit region is Lombardy, which includes Milan. Next comes Campania, the region around Naples.
Under Germany’s new rules, public meetings are restricted to 10 people maximum from two households. Private parties are banned.
Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germans to stick to the new rules now, and make November a “breakwater”, so that Christmas may be enjoyed despite “this sort of natural disaster”.
“It will be a Christmas under corona conditions, but it should not be a lonely Christmas,” she said, explaining that family visits should be feasible, but without any “lavish New Year’s parties”.
“The light at the end of the tunnel is still quite a long way off,” she warned.
Under Germany’s federal system there is some regional variation, so Hamburg, Lower Saxony and Berlin, for example, are exempting children under 12 from the two-households rule.