Germany’s social distancing measures have been extended through the end of the Easter holiday break, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced on Wednesday following a call with state leaders.
The extension, which now keeps the restrictions in place until at least April 19, was agreed during a conference call between Merkel and the leaders of Germany’s 16 states.
Read more: What are Germany’s social distancing rules?
“A pandemic doesn’t take a vacation,” Merkel said announcing the decision. The restrictions were initially due to end on April 5.
Speaking earlier in the day, Merkel said it would be far worse to lift the restrictions too early.
She said it was currently “much too early to think about loosening the restrictions.”
“It would be much worse to do it too early, and we are still very far away from what we need to achieve,” the chancellor added.
Germany’s population fo over 80 million has been called on to “reduce contact with other people except for members of their own household to an absolute minimum in keeping with the existing rules, including during the Easter holidays,” according to a transcript of the call seen by news agency DPA.
Residents have also been called on to forego private trips and visits with relatives during the Easter school holidays — which end for most states on April 19.
No obligation to wear masks
According to the call transcript, the federal and state governments agreed that people should not be required to wear face masks in public to stem the spread of the virus.
However, wearing a mask also does not mean that the person is absolved from observing the other social distancing restrictions — such as not meeting up in public with more than two people outside of the people who live in your house and keeping at least a 1.5 to 2 meter (4.9 to 6.6-foot) distance to others.
Neighboring Austria implemented a mask requirement on Wednesday for everyone entering grocery stores.
The current restrictions in Germany will be reviewed again on April 14, the Tuesday after Easter, Merkel said.
rs/rg (dpa, AFP)