Merkel urges Germans to work together again to slow virus
BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germans to come together like they did in the spring to slow the spread of the coronavirus as the country posted another daily record of new cases Saturday.
“Difficult months are ahead of us,” she said in her weekly video podcast. “How winter will be, how our Christmas will be, that will all be decided in these coming days and weeks, and it will be decided by our behavior.”
Meanwhile, new restrictions went into effect in several other European nations in an effort to staunch the resurgence of the pandemic.
In Paris and eight other French cities, restaurants, bars, movie theaters and other establishments were being forced to close no later than 9 p.m. to try to reduce contact among people. The country was deploying 12,000 extra police officers to enforce the new rules.
Many restaurant owners have bristled at the order. An earlier monthslong lockdown devastated the sector.
“I have the right to question the government’s approach, I think it’s a catastrophic measure for the industry,” said Xavier Denamur, who owns several bistros in Paris’s chic Le Marais district.
In Britain, a three-tier regional approach to battle the pandemic introduced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson went into effect, with each level bringing progressively tighter restrictions.
On Saturday, tier-2 cities like London and York were subject to a ban on socializing with people from other households indoors, while the county of Lancashire joined Liverpool in tier 3 with the tightest restrictions.
The World Health Organization has warned that
intensive care units in a number of European cities could reach maximum capacity in the coming weeks if the number of infections doesn’t slow.
Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg joined the list of top politicians who have tested positive for the virus, and was quarantined though he showed no symptoms, his office told Austria’s APA news agency.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the country’s head of state, was quarantined after a bodyguard was infected, his office said. A first test came out negative.
Germany, which was widely lauded for rapidly slowing the spread of the virus when the pandemic first broke out, has seen rapidly climbing numbers in recent days. On Saturday, the country’s disease control center, theRobertKoch Institute, reported 7,830 cases overnight, a record.
Germany has registered almost 362,000 coronavirus cases and nearly 9,800 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
Merkel urged Germans to avoid unnecessary travel, cancel parties and remain at home whenever possible.
“What brought us so well through the first half year of the pandemic?” she asked. “It was that we stood together and obeyed the rules out of consideration and common sense. This is the most effective remedy we currently have against the pandemic and it is more necessary now than ever.”
In the neighboring Czech Republic, the number of new infections surpassed 10,000 for the first time, surging to 11,105 on Friday, theHealth Ministry said. The country has now registered more than 164,000 cases, including almost 1,350 deaths.
Despite new restrictive measures to slowthe surge, Health Minister Roman Prymula said he still expects a rise in those testing positive for about two weeks.
Slovakia said it was acquiring 13 million rapid antigen tests — enough to test each member of the population twice — and would establish 6,000 testing sites.
Prime Minister IgorMatovic said testing will take place over the next two weekends, starting with the three or four hardest hit counties. It was not immediately clear whether testswould be mandatory.
An individual undergoes a COVID-19 test at a coronavirus testing center Thursday in Germany, where cases are rising.