The German government has announced that the country will head back into a second lockdown in response to a recent spike in the coronavirus cases. The second lockdown is set to begin on Monday and will last for at least four weeks.
Germany initially had some of the strictest lockdown measures in Europe, but recently gradually eased those restrictions. Schools, bars, and restaurants had been allowed to reopen in phases in recent weeks.
However, in response to the news that the country saw a record total of 14,964 cases on Tuesday, the government has decided to once again severely restrict its citizens' movements. According to NBC News, the second lockdown will require all bars, restaurants, cinemas, and other leisure activities to close for in-person activities. Restaurants will still be permitted to prepare food for take-out purposes.
Additionally, German citizens are being asked to stay home, restrict travel, and avoid even in-home gatherings that involve more than two households. Retail stores will remain open, but hotels will not be allowed to accommodate tourists.
Notably, even though Germany is locking down most of their country, schools will remain open, even though they are being required to undertake additional sanitation measures.
According to CNN, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the second lockdown was necessary to "avoid a national health emergency" and that "what makes the situation particularly serious ... the rate of dissemination is particularly high."
The European continent has been particularly hard hit by a second wave of coronavirus infections, as the World Health Organization notes that almost half of all new cases worldwide last week were in the European region.
As with the initial lockdowns in the United States, the stated justification for the second German lockdowns is concern about hospital capacity.
In announcing the decision, Merkel said, "We can say that our health system can cope with the challenge today. But if the pace of infections continues like this, then we'll reach the limits of what the health system can manage within weeks."
According to NBC News, half of all ICU beds in France are currently occupied by COVID-19 patients.