German Chancellor Angela Merkel is pushing for harsher lockdown measures as the country faces record numbers of recorded coronavirus deaths.
Most recently on Wednesday (December 9) 590 people were lost.
In an emotional plea in the parliament, Merkel warned legislators that vaccines alone would not alter the pandemic’s course.
“As hard as this is — and I know how much love has gone in to setting up the mulled wine stalls and the waffle stalls — this is not really compatible with the agreement to only get food to go, and then to actually go home with it. It hurts me. It really aches in my heart, but if the price of these niceties is that our fatalities are now at 590 people a day then this is not acceptable and so we have to tighten this.”
Germany — which was praised by international health organizations early in the pandemic for its aggressive response to coronavirus — has been in partial lockdown for six weeks, with bars and restaurants closed.
But infection levels remain at a high level.
Under Germany’s federal system, the power to impose restrictions lies with regional governments.
Some state leaders, especially in less affected regions, have resisted Merkel’s push for tighter measures.
In the run up to Christmas, other European countries are trying to navigate between avoiding the spread of COVID-19 and allowing people to celebrate.
Italy — which also recently saw a new death record — has announced that midnight mass on Christmas Eve will be canceled and traveling between regions are banned. Ski resorts would also be closed over Christmas and New Years.
In Spain, up to 10 people per household will be allowed to gather for the holidays. But curfews will be in place.