BERLIN (Reuters) – Chancellor Angela Merkel in planning a “lockdown light” that will focus on closing bars, restaurants and public events to slow a second wave of COVID-19 infections in Germany, Bild newspaper reported on Monday.
Shops will stay open, with some restrictions, under the plan and schools will keep operating, apart from in areas with particularly high numbers of cases, the mass-selling daily reported.
A government spokesman neither confirmed nor denied the report and said no final decisions had been made.
Infections have almost doubled in the past week in Germany and cases are also rising across Europe and large parts of the Northern Hemisphere.
But Merkel is eager to avoid a second total national lockdown that might threaten a fragile recovery in Europe’s largest economy.
Earlier on Monday, Merkel’s spokesman said the chancellor and the leaders of Germany’s 16 states would meet to decide on additional curbs on Wednesday.
A government official said on condition of anonymity that the measures described by Bild as a “lockdown light” might not be enough and that state premiers and the chancellery would have to agree on even tougher restrictions.
Germany reported 8,685 new cases on Monday. Government sources quoted Merkel as saying that the situation was “very, very serious” and without additional containment measures the number of daily new cases could reach 30,000 next week.
“(The conference) will be to discuss what can be done to contain the spread of the virus soon,” Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert told a news conference. “I expect decisions to be made.”
The Rottal-Inn district in Bavaria announced a two-week lockdown starting on Tuesday that will force its 120,000 residents to stay at home unless outings are absolutely necessary.
Officials there said the decision was made after a spike in coronavirus cases in the district to more than 200 per 100,000 inhabitants over seven days.
A second district – Berchtesgaden, 110km to the south in the Bavarian Alps – has been in lockdown since Oct. 20.
Germany’s COVID-19 situation remains less serious than in other major European countries including Britain, France and Spain. France, which has imposed night-time curfews on major cities, reported a record 52,010 new confirmed infections on Sunday.
(Reporting by Michael Nienaber and Andreas Rinke; Additional reporting by Holger Hansen and Joseph Nasr; Editing by Mark Heinrich, Michelle Martin and Andrew Heavens)