Berlin, 30 September 2020 (dpa/MIA) — The German population risks undoing the work done to contain the coronavirus pandemic in the country, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned on Wednesday, in a strident appeal for discipline and patience during the crisis.
Merkel appealed to citizens to take care of each other and decried slipping standards on hygiene measures such as social distancing and mask-wearing.
“We risk everything that we have achieved in the past few months,” Merkel said in a speech to the German parliament.
After drastically reducing infections earlier this year, Germany has been recording over 1,000 new coronavirus infections daily for over a month now, with the 24-hour increase sometimes exceeding 2,000.
On Wednesday, the total confirmed caseload since the virus reached the country stood at 289,219, up by 1,798 on the previous day, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for disease control said. The death toll reached 9,488, rising by 17.
At the height of the pandemic in late March and early April, Germany was counting over 6,000 new cases per day.
Merkel, who has a background in science, said the data show that the pandemic is far from over – but she expressed optimism that normal life would one day return.
“I am certain that life as we knew it will return. Families will celebrate again, clubs and theaters and football stadiums will be full again. What a joy that will be,” she told lawmakers.
“But now we must show that we can continue to behave patiently and sensibly and in doing so save lives.”
Everyone is longing for closeness, human touch and togetherness, including the chancellor. “I feel it myself. I am not doing any differently than others,” Merkel said, while adding that maintaining distance during the pandemic is in itself an “expression of care.”
Germany introduced sweeping restrictions on socializing as the virus began spreading in March, but the country’s 16 federal states have gradually lifted these rules in recent months, as authorities opt for a contact-tracing strategy.
However, on Tuesday, Merkel and the 16 state premiers agreed to a framework that would limit family gatherings in public or rented spaces to 50 in districts where the number of infections per 100,000 people exceeds 35 over a seven-day period. This does not currently affect most areas, according to the latest data from the RKI.