German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on her country's citizens to come together in fighting the coronavirus as the nation closed its borders to other European Union members on Wednesday, declaring the COVID-19 pandemic Germany's greatest challenge "since World War Two."
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In a televised address, Ms. Merkel "urged Germans to heed the stringent confinement measures imposed this week as the number of infections in her country soared over 11,000 today, including 20 deaths," the Daily Mail reported.
"It is serious. Take it seriously," the chancellor said, according to Reuters. "Not since German reunification, actually, since World War II, there has never been a challenge for our country in which acting in solidarity was so very crucial."
She added, "I truly believe we can succeed in this task, if all citizens truly understand their own tasks."
The German government has advised the entire country to close daycare facilities and schools until the end of the Easter holiday, Reuters reported. Stores selling nonessential goods and services have also been shuttered, but grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, and other essential businesses remain open.
Sky News reported that Merkel said her government's measures aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19 may seem "dramatic," but that they are "indispensable in order to protect lives."
Also on Wednesday, Germany's transport minister, Andreas Scheuer, announced the country's borders would be closed to citizens of other EU nations, Politico reported.
In a statement released by his ministry, Scheuer said, "Today we are taking a further step to protect the population. We are expanding restrictions on people traveling into the country to travelers from the European member countries — regardless of whether they travel to Germany via air, rail, water or road."