GERMANS could face up to FIVE MONTHS of lockdowns to prevent Covid cases hitting 50,000 a day like they have in France.
Economy Minister Peter Altmaier warned the country is clearly “not out of the woods” amid a worrying recent rise in infections.
And he said people should not expect any current pandemic restrictions to be lifted quickly with four or five months of severe measures possible.
“We cannot afford a yo-yo shutdown with the economy constantly opening and closing,” he said during an interview with Bild am Sonntag.
Germany has imposed a set of measures dubbed “lockdown light” to combat the current second wave of the pandemic.
While restaurants are closed, schools and shops so far remain open for business for now.
The latest data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed the number of confirmed cases in Germany rose by 16,947 to 790,503 on Sunday.
Altmaier said Germany should now be very wary of relaxing any restrictions too quickly.
“If we don’t want days with 50,000 new infections, as was the case in France a few weeks ago, we must see through this and not constantly speculate about which measures can be relaxed again,” he said.
“All countries that lifted their restrictions too early have so far paid a high price in terms of human lives lost.”
His comments echoed those of other leading German policy makers.
Health Minister Jens Spahn said at an online event of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party on Saturday that hard weeks, possibly even months, now lie ahead.
The German chairman of the World Medical Association, Frank Ulrich Montgomery, also warned of a possible shortage of beds and staffing problems in German hospitals.
“My forecast is that we will have to talk about further restrictions rather than any easing”, he said.
Frankfurt police turned water cannons on counter-protesters who were trying to block a march against coronavirus restrictions on Saturday.
Around 600 supporters of the so-called Querdenker (lateral thinker) movement rallied through the German city on Saturday.
However, about 300 rival protesters holding banners reading “bring down the right” tried to block their path.
Police used water cannons to free up the route for the rally after officers were attacked. The security forces also used batons on protesters.
Chancellor Merkel tonight failed to push through additional curbs to combat the coronavirus.
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Speaking after talks with the leaders of Germany’s 16 states, Merkel said the country had managed to “break the dynamic of new infections.”
“We still have a long way to go but the good news is that we have halted the exponential growth for now,”she told reporters.
The veteran chancellor had earlier sought to agree further measures such as halving class sizes and having all pupils wear masks during lessons.