Germany is closing stores, tightening restrictions

German officials have announced that stores will close again in the country due to growing cases of coronavirus.

The country’s stores will close from Wednesday until at least January 10, Reuters reported. Chancellor Angela Merkel made a statement to the press after meeting with 16 state governors in the country.

“I wanted easier measures. But the number of social connections has increased significantly due to Christmas shopping, the news service said. “Action is urgently needed.”

“The ‘shut-off lamp’ had an effect, but it was not enough,” said Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Soder, using a common term for less stringent measures that kept shops and schools open. “The situation is out of control.”

Grocery stores, pharmacies and banks will remain open, but other retailers as well as businesses such as salons and tattoo parlors will close. Private rallies can be limited to a maximum of five people from more than one household, slightly mitigating Christmas.

Officials say € 11 billion a month is being given to businesses affected by the order. According to Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, any business forced to close can receive up to 90 percent of fixed costs as compensation.

Germany reported 20,200 new cases on Sunday, a total of 1.32 million, according to the Robert Koch Institute. The country also killed a further 321 people, for a total of 21,787.

The country introduced austerity measures in the spring during the initial wave of the virus and had one of the lowest cases and deaths in Europe. However, as in many other European countries, the number has increased in recent weeks, and public health officials have expressed concern that the cold weather will drive more people there.