Germany will close most shops from Wednesday until 10 January as it tightens coronavirus restrictions and tries to rein in the spread of the disease, the country’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, has said.
Schools will also be shut during the period, and employers will be asked to close operations or have employees work from home. The sale of fireworks will be banned ahead of New Year’s Eve.
“There is an urgent need to take action,” Merkel said after a meeting with leaders of the country’s 16 federal states.
Under the agreement, only essential shops such as supermarkets and pharmacies, as well as banks, are to remain open.
Germany has been in partial lockdown for six weeks, with bars and restaurants closed, while stores and schools have remained open. Some regions have already imposed tougher measures as infections grew.
New daily infections and deaths have reached record levels in recent days, and politicians have been sounding the alarm.
On Sunday, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 20,200 to 1,320,716, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases. The reported death toll rose by 321 to 21,787.