Chancellor Angela Merkel wears a protective face mask when leaving the country after speaking to the media at her annual summer press conference in Berlin on August 28, 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic.
Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Chancellor Angela Merkel will announce that Germany will extend its lockdown until March 14, amid concerns about new strains of the coronavirus.
A draft document appeared early Wednesday setting out plans between Merkel and state officials to maintain the lockdown and urge citizens to maintain the social distancing rules, but gradually lift some restrictions in the coming weeks.
The reopening of schools is a priority for the German leadership, although due to the federal system of the country the individual federal states can be expected to be able to decide how to do this. Stores and hotels could start reopening next month in areas where infection rates are also low. The restrictions should end by February 14th.
There are concerns in Germany about the spread of more contagious variants of the virus, particularly the mutation that was first discovered in the UK last fall. However, the daily number of new infections in Germany has fallen as public life continues to be blocked across the country.
The Robert Koch Institute, a public health institution, reported 8,072 new coronavirus cases and 813 deaths on Wednesday. This brought the total number of infections to around 2.3 million and the death toll to 62,969.
German lawmakers reportedly described the situation as “very fragile” on Wednesday.
Slow rollout of the EU
The slow introduction of coronavirus vaccines in Germany and the rest of the EU is a problem for the federal government, which is an important pillar of the bloc. The EU has been slower than the UK and US to order vaccines from major drug manufacturers and has faced supply shortages.
The longer the introduction of vaccinations, the longer the economic damage is expected from lockdowns. According to the GDP data published in January for the full year (gross domestic product), the German economy contracted by 5% in 2020.
Ludovic Subran, chief economist at Allianz, told CNBC on Wednesday that the slow roll-out of vaccination could seriously hurt the EU’s growth prospects in 2021.
“I’m getting a little nervous and we are only in February that we miss the boat here, that the vaccination is the best investment and we should put all our forces (efforts) there,” he told CNBC’s “Street Signs Europe”.
“Our projections show that Europe won’t return to pre-crisis (growth) levels until 2022. Then we saw the vaccination chaos and started thinking, ‘OK, we’re really jeopardizing the recovery here’ … the problem is we’re vaccinating four times here slower than the UK and US, “he said, adding,” This is really a big problem as it will make or break the 2021 GDP recovery for Europe. “
– CNBC’s Annette Weisbach contributed to this article.