Authorities in Germany are warning that the ongoing lockdown is likely to remain in force until the end of May as the coronavirus infection rate spiked over the weekend despite stricter restrictions.
The country is struggling to contain the third wave of infections, with efforts complicated by the more contagious b117 variant, which first emerged in the United Kingdom, and a relatively slow start to its national vaccination campaign.
Germany’s finance minister Olaf Scholz said the government will outline clear opening steps for the summer by the end of May, allowing restaurants to adjust reopening plans and citizens to plan holidays.
Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday urged Germans to stick to tougher rules imposed in areas with high infection rates, saying the additional measures were needed to break the third wave of infections.
Parliament approved amendments to the infection Protection Act last week to give the federal government more powers in the pandemic.
The new law enables the government to impose curfews between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. in districts where cases exceed 100 per 100,000 residents on three consecutive days.
Schools will have to close and return to online classes if cases reach 165 per 100,000 residents on three consecutive days.