"We need to pull together and be there for one another more than ever before"

Chancellor's government statement "We need to pull together and be there for one another more than ever before"

"It is up to us. We are not powerless," declared Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday in the German Bundestag. Every one of us can help us all get through this difficult time, she said. In a government statement, she explained the measures adopted by the federal and state governments to address the pandemic. She said she hopes that, over the festive season, everybody in Germany will pull together and be there for one another.

Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks in the German Bundestag.

Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks in the German Bundestag during her government statement on the latest COVID-19 measures.

Photo: Bundesregierung/Kugler

"We have managed to halt the dramatic exponential rise in the numbers of new cases," said Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday in the German Bundestag. But the figures are just moving sideways, and we are not seeing the "urgently needed reversal of the upwards trend". The objective is still to get the numbers of infections back down to a level where the local public health offices can again identify and break chains of transmission – and that means getting numbers below 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over a seven-day period.

The federal and state government have thus agreed that at this time it is particularly important to retain the restrictions on contacts and to define them more precisely, supplement them and tighten them in places, by introducing additional measures. Everybody should continue to reduce their contacts. In their decision PDF, 168 KB, not barrier-free on Wednesday, the federal and state governments based their resolutions on medical, scientific and ethical considerations, said the Chancellor in her government statement.

Open schools and nurseries and additional economic assistance

In future people should again scale back the number of people they meet privately, and the use of face coverings is to be increased. Universities and colleges are called on to move to online teaching. Schools and nurseries are to remain open, while special regulations will apply during the school holidays and to the use of face masks in schools. Although federal government is not directly responsible for schools, "we are responsible for the course of the pandemic as a whole," stressed Angela Merkel.

It was agreed that additional economic assistance would be available for December. The Chancellor explained, "Our efforts to fight the pandemic do not target health or business, health or education, health or culture, health or social affairs. We always address both."

Vaccine development on the right road

Developments in the field of vaccines are "a light at the end of the tunnel" declared the Chancellor. She said she expects significant progress next year. The first vaccines will be earmarked for front line workers in the health and care sectors. "We have a strong health system which has managed to withstand the onslaught of the pandemic so far and we must ensure that this remains the case."

To reduce the risk of infection, "face coverings and distancing are the very best thing" said the Chancellor. Cloth face coverings do reduce the risk of infection and offer protection, "but unless medical FFP2 or 3 masks are used, there is no guarantee that a person will not be infected nevertheless." Further-reaching measures are thus indispensable to ensure all-round safety. The Chancellor also urged people to use the Corona-Warn-App. 23 million people have already downloaded the contact tracing and warning app.

"No lonely Christmas"

The Chancellor called on everybody to think particularly of those living in care homes or homes for the elderly, or who are alone at home. "It is very important that we don’t only think about our own family, but that we think of those who are going through a very difficult time at the moment," said the Chancellor.

"This winter will be hard, but it will come to an end," said Angela Merkel. "And now, where we are thinking so much about Christmas and the New Year, I wish for myself and I wish us all that we pull together and that we are there for one another more than ever before. If we can embrace that, we will get through this crisis."