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Merkel moves to tighten COVID-19 measures



German Chancellor, Angela Merkel is set to meet state premiers, to discuss tightening COVID-19 measures.

The German leader looks set to introduce new restrictions on public and private gatherings and ramp up mask-wearing rules as she holds meeting with state premiers via video link today.

Merkel is to meet with the representatives of Germany’s 16 states to assess the effectiveness of the country’s current partial shutdown.

The leaders were set to consider whether schools in Germany can remain open and if current contact restrictions should be further tightened. Sources close to the talks told DPA say.

According to a draft proposal released, children and young people are to be encouraged to meet with only one particular friend regularly in their free time.

Similarly, families are to limit private get-togethers to their own household and people from one other particular household.

 The proposal further envisions limiting peoples’ meetings in public to members of their own households and a maximum of two people from another household.

The draft calls for private parties to initially be avoided completely until Christmas.

It will be recalled that since November 2, only members of two households have been allowed to meet in public, with not more than 10 people taking part in the gathering.

The proposal also calls for people who display cold symptoms especially runny noses and coughs to immediately quarantine at home.

 The draft further pushes for social distancing measures to be stepped up at schools with masks that cover the mouth and nose to become compulsory for teachers and pupils of all ages on school premises and during lessons.

Pupils are to have lessons in assigned, unchanging groups of about half the regular class size, according to the draft proposal.

At-risk groups including the elderly and sick people are to receive special FFP2 masks at reduced prices subsidised by the federal government.

It will be recalled that case numbers had continued upward rise in Germany two weeks into the shutdown, prompting immediate closures of restaurants, bars, museums, and other leisure facilities, while retail remains open.

Given that number daily cases has remained high, hopes for relaxing of measures will likely be dashed in today’s talks in favor of the stricter measures.

Merkel had on Saturday, warned that the virus would continue to dominate people’s lives for a long time.

“The coming winter will make heavy demands of us all,” Merkel said in her weekly podcast.

Ahead of the meeting, Bavarian Premier, Markus Soeder on Saturday, said there would be no relaxation of the rules until at least the end of the month, with the possibility of restrictions being further tightened or extended into December not being ruled out.

“Whether the shutdown has to be extended, we’ll see. Whether more needs to be done – that will all be decided,” he said.

Meanwhile, thousands of people took to the streets in several German cities over the weekend to protest against the coronavirus restrictions.

Merkel has also scheduled to meet regional leaders on November 23, to discuss whether measures will have to be tightened or can be partially eased before Christmas.

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