On Wednesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel will require regional leaders to agree to partial isolation in Germany, which will close restaurants and bars but keep schools open, according to a draft document that Reuters has obtained.
Finance Minister Olaf Scholz wants to provide up to 10 billion euros in aid to compensate companies hit by the new measures, according to three people familiar with the matter.
The drastic measures, which according to the most popular magazine Bild daily, will take effect on November 2, are aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus in Europe's largest economy, as the number of new cases reached record levels.
In accordance with the new planned restrictions, people will only be able to go out with their family members. Fitness studios, discos and cinemas will close, as will theaters, opera houses and concert venues.
Restaurants only offer takeaway. Stores can stay open if they have taken hygiene measures and limited the number of shoppers.
Merkel is in virtual talks with the prime ministers of 16 countries to work out nationwide rules that will replace a confusing set of regional measures.
In almost all regions of Germany there is an exponential increase in infection rates and local health authorities can no longer track all infections.
“The goal is to quickly interrupt the dynamics of the spread of the infection so that there is no need for any far-reaching restrictions on personal contact and economic activity during the Christmas period,” the message says.
Germany has been widely praised for keeping infection and mortality rates lower than many of its neighbors during the first phase of the crisis, but is now in the midst of a second wave. The incidence has risen by 14,964 to 464,239 in the last 24 hours, the agency Robert Koch, Germany's agency for infectious diseases, reported on Wednesday.
Deaths jumped 85 to 10,183, raising concerns about the health care system after Merkel warned it could reach a tipping point if the infection continues to grow.
“If we wait until the intensive care unit is full, it will be too late,” said Health Minister Jens Spahn, who tested positive for the virus last week.
The government is desperately trying to avoid another complete isolation after economic growth plummeted by a record 9.7% in the second quarter in March-April.