Christmas market in Frankfurt

Germany presents unified Covid policy to break the spike in cases amid closing Christmas markets

Germany presents unified Covid policy to break the spike in cases amid closing Christmas markets

States have been calling for a unified policy for months and since authorities reported 58,000 new cases yesterday, things have started moving fast

Today, Germany announced some of the first national guidelines to deal with the recent spike in Covid cases. While state authorities have been pressing the Federal Government for unified guidelines, policymakers in Berlin have been reluctant to take decisive action up to now.

Today, the still unfinalised coalition between the Socialists, Greens and Federal Democratic Party unveiled their multi-step approach for restrictions based on incidence rates.

At the same time, health authorities reported more than 58,000 new infections yesterday. The fourth wave of the pandemic is in full swing and it is showing no signs of slowing down. This has caused a domino effect of closed Christmas markets across the country, most notably in the whole of Bavaria.

Considering the current guidelines, all eyes turn to Christmas, as the possibility of strict social distancing and a cap to in-person visits loom over the horizon.

The new system

The main measurement for determining the pandemic and appropriate response in the new guidelines is the reported hospitalisations per 100,000 reported by the Robert Koch Institute.

If the hospitalisation rate exceeds a threshold of 3, only the vaccinated and those who have recovered can visit restaurants, events and body services like hairdressers.

If the hospitalisation rate exceeds a threshold of 6, then the vaccinated and recovered need to also provide a negative PCR test.

If the hospitalisation rate exceeds a threshold of 9, the states will have the authority to impose tougher rules like contact restrictions and bans on events.

Furthermore, the German government will also extend financial aid for people affected by the new restrictions. One measure is the III Plus, extended until March 2022. Another is a restart of assistance for self-employed people and the third is a still undecided fund that should provide flexibility to those working in the arts.

Christmas markets are going away this year

Following the cancellation of the Christmas market in Munich due to exploding COVID-19 numbers earlier this week, state authorities have announced their decision to close all Christmas markets. The decision is coupled with a new wave of restrictions that should break the current spike.

In Saxony, the Dresden Frauenkirche church announced that it will cancel all concerts. Furthermore, authorities have tripled mobile vaccination staff and now mandate a green certificate for people going to work. Also, schools have been ordered to close. This all comes amid numerous Christmas market closures from across the federal state.

On the other hand, Erfurt, a city in Thuringia stubbornly refuses to close its Christmas market despite the rise in cases and criticism from the political opposition. Its mayor, Andreas Bausewein, complained that his rivals are trying to politicise the holiday and are in breach of the law. It is important to note that the initial plan for the market has been adapted to a more modest size and stricter health guidelines.



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