Merkel push for German lockdown blocked as dying toll passes 100,000

BERLIN, GERMANY – SEPTEMBER 22: German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) speaks with Vice Chancellor and Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz.

Swimming pool | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Germany’s Covid-19 crisis continues to rock the nation with dire news on Thursday that the total number of deaths has now surpassed 100,000.

However, the country’s new coalition government is initially resisting a lockdown.

Germany reported massive new Covid cases on Thursday. with over 75,000 new infections in the last 24 hours (and up from 66,884 on Wednesday), while the death toll has now reached 100,119 after 351 more people died from the virus the previous day.

Government officials have been watching the rising cases with alarm for weeks, and the country’s outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel is said to have pushed for a two-week lockdown at a meeting on Tuesday with the country’s new coalition government.

According to the Bild newspaper, the new government alliance of the left-wing Social Democrats and Greens as well as the business-friendly Free Democrats resisted the idea and preferred to wait to see whether the stricter Covid restrictions announced last week would help reduce infections.

While Merkel had proposed a lockdown starting Thursday that would have closed shops, bars and restaurants, the idea was rejected by the new government, which said it had been interpreted as a “bad political ploy” by the public, both old and new government, Picture reported Wednesday.

CNBC contacted the federal government for further comments on the picture report and learned that “the German government does not comment on the media coverage.

“However, the government referred to statements made by Merkel’s chief spokesman Steffen Seibert on Wednesday, in which he neither denied nor confirmed whether Merkel had pushed for a lockdown, and stated that the conversation between Merkel and the coalition leaders was confidential, but he said she” had discussed the gravity of the situation.

“At this meeting yesterday, the Chancellor made it clear to the heads of the traffic light coalition that, from her point of view, the situation is extremely serious. The drama is obvious in this country: the hospitals are filling rapidly. Free intensive care beds and available intensive care staff are becoming increasingly scarce, “said Seibert.

“Now we have to do what is necessary to slow down and break this fourth wave as quickly as possible. As I said, the Chancellor has made it clear to the heads of the future coalition that the situation is serious.”

Compulsory vaccination

(from left to right) Christian Lindner from the FDP, Olaf Scholz from the SPD and Annalene Baerbock and Robert Habeck from the Greens pose after they presented their amicable coalition agreement to the media on November 24, 2021 in Berlin, Germany.

Sean Gallup | Getty Images News | Getty Images

After the deal and the coalition’s political ambitions were announced on Wednesday, Scholz signaled that the Covid crisis was an immediate priority for the government. He started a press conference announcing the coalition agreement by saying the virus situation in Germany is serious and the country will expand its vaccination campaign, including mandating vaccines for some people.

“Vaccination is the way out of this pandemic. In facilities in which endangered groups of people are cared for, we should make vaccination compulsory,” said Scholz, without giving any details.

Meanwhile, the new finance minister Christian Lindner declared that the Germans should avoid any unnecessary contact this winter “in order to preserve our whole health in this pandemic”.

Germany already tightened the Covid rules during the last fourth wave of cases in the country.

Many federal states in Germany have already restricted access to public spaces such as bars, restaurants, cinemas and museums according to “2G rules” and restricted access only to those who have been vaccinated – “vaccinated” in German – or recovered, “recovered” . Some large German Christmas markets that were not canceled this year have also adopted 2G rules.

On Wednesday, new measures came into effect imposing “3G” rules on public transport and anyone entering a workplace, which means that more public spaces are open to vaccinated, recent genesis or people with a negative test (“tested”) .

If Germany decides to be vaccinated in some settings, it will not be the first. The UK, France and Italy are among the countries that have introduced (or are introducing) compulsory vaccination for some sectors such as healthcare or homeworkers.

Still, compulsory vaccinations are a sensitive issue and have many ethical issues, and Germany, like other countries, could face a backlash against the switch.

Continue reading: Are Covid Vaccine Regulations Ethical? That’s what doctors say

Germany has tried to encourage the voluntary uptake of Covid vaccination in its population, but at 68.1% of the population it has one of the lower Covid vaccination rates in Western Europe.

Vaccine hesitation, the upcoming winter season, and the spread of the highly infectious Delta-Covid variant, which is far more virulent than previous strains, are making it difficult to contain the virus this time around for Germany, a country widely praised for its initial handling of the pandemic .

World Covid deaths hit 5 million as pandemic takes staggering toll

Two women walk next to graves of people who died due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Parque Taruma cemetery in Manaus, Brazil, on May 20, 2021.

Bruno Kelly | Reuters

More than 5 million people have died of Covid-19 in less than two years as the world continues to battle the highly contagious Delta strain of the virus and keep an eye out for new mutations.

According to data collected Monday by John Hopkins University, 5,000,425 Covid-19-related deaths have been recorded worldwide. 745,836 people have died of Covid-19 in the United States, making it the country with the most recorded deaths.

The coronavirus pandemic, which first appeared in China in late 2019, continues to cause deadly consequences worldwide.

It is as a result that many countries are lifting pandemic restrictions and ending lockdowns, which were imposed to varying degrees throughout 2020 in an attempt to stop the virus from spreading.

The rapid development of Covid vaccines, clinically proven to significantly reduce serious infections, hospital stays, and deaths from the coronavirus, has helped dramatically reduce the number of people dying from Covid, especially in western countries where the vaccination programs are at an advanced stage.

Nonetheless, there have been growing concerns in recent months about an increase in infections, hospital admissions, and deaths as winter approaches, not only among the unvaccinated, who are far more at risk of serious complications from Covid, but also among the elderly (who are too vaccinated first), as immunity wears off over time.

This is breaking news, please check back for more updates.

The Day – Pandemic’s toll on eating places, leisure venues powerful to pin down

It was inevitable that the state government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic would devastate the leisure and hospitality industry, a “supersector” of Connecticut’s economy.

Hundreds of restaurants have closed due to capacity constraints, some forever while theaters and other entertainment venues have been dark.

How many?

“How many restaurants failed during the pandemic?” asked a reader replying to The Day’s CuriousCT Feature. “What other entertainment venues will not open if allowed?”

Exact answers proved elusive.

As early as November, around eight months after the pandemic, the Connecticut Restaurant Association It was estimated that more than 600 restaurants in the state had either been closed for an extended period of time or permanently, and many would likely suffer a similar fate. The number has since been announced but has never been officially updated. Neither organization, including the Connecticut Restaurant Association, the National Restaurant Association, the State Department of Economic and Community Development, and the local chambers of commerce, has kept an extensive list of restaurant closings.

“That’s a tough question,” said mystical restaurateur Dan Meiser, who heads the Connecticut Restaurant Association’s board of directors.

He said the association based the number 600 on discussions with major grocers – the Syscos and US Foods of the world – who know which of their customers are no longer in need.

“In the fall, the number rose to 800, and as we approached the holidays and the terraces of the restaurants disappeared and the money for the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) ran out, there were more closings,” said Meiser. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it were over 1,000.”

“And that doesn’t include the smaller mom and pop stores that don’t rely on the big box distributors,” he added.

Anecdotes and reports in The Day and other media shed light on the situation in southeast Connecticut.

“We don’t have a formal list of closings, but we can tell you that the following restaurants have closed after the pandemic started: MBar, Green Marble and Bartleby’s Café,” wrote Bruce Flax, executive director of the Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce, in an E. -Mail.

The day reported the closure of Avanti’s Mystic Pizza Restaurant; Cafe Otis in Norwich; Zack’s Bar and Grill in Stonington; and the NoRA Cupcake Co., O’Neills Brass Rail and 1784, all in New London.

Flax also provided a list of newly opened restaurants including Young Buns Donuts, Nana’s Bakery, Noble Smokehouse, The Shipwright’s Daughter, and Via Emilia.

Many of Connecticut’s hardest hit restaurants have been removed from the permanently closed list with the help of grants such as the Connecticut Restaurant Relief Fund grants. Recipients in the area included the Fisherman Restaurant at Long Point, Groton; Rise and Steak Loft, both in Mystic; RD86 and The Yolk Café, both in New London; Namoo in Norwich; Rise Nutrition in Pawcatuck; and Underground in Waterford.

“Of course there are some new ones,” said Meiser, who, along with James Wayman, added Nana’s to Meiser’s restaurant lineup at the end of October.

“We would never have opened Nana’s in a pandemic, except for the simple fact that we signed a contract two months before the pandemic started,” said Meiser. “Is this an exciting climate to open a restaurant? The answer is a tough no. “

Restaurants on the coast in southeast Connecticut have fared better than those in the state’s urban areas, he said.

“In Mystic we could expand our parking lots, have terraces and decks, expand onto sidewalks and there is the tourist component,” said Meiser. “Business has picked up in the last few weeks since the governor lifted capacity restrictions (for indoor restaurants).”

Meiser believes restaurants that survived to this point have a good chance of making it – at least in the summer. But fall and winter will present additional challenges for the many restaurants that are burdened with “exceptional” debt, he said.

Meiser and others in Connecticut and elsewhere fear that mom and pop operators will increasingly be replaced by national chain brands whose business owners have deep pockets.

“They see a great opportunity – and less competition,” he said.

Theaters are looking for help on the fringes

The ultimate fate of entertainment venues in southeast Connecticut may be more difficult to gauge than that of restaurants.

As of March 19, state-imposed rules still limit cinemas, including cinemas, to 50% of their capacity. They have to close by 11 p.m. and keep people 6 feet apart. Only time will tell if they survive.

According to Wendy Bury, executive director of the Southeastern Connecticut Cultural Coalition, no venues have permanently closed at this time.

“I’m knocking on wood as I write this,” Bury said in a recent email, “but we haven’t seen any permanent entertainment venues nearby, considering some are eligible for the closed venue operating grant. .. If.” You don’t get this grant, reopening and restoring will be insurmountable for some. But overall, we keep our fingers crossed and we know it may be too early to see permanent closings as summer and fall will make it or break. “

Arts organization executives gathered outside Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam on Wednesday to urge their colleagues to take advantage of the $ 16.2 billion coronavirus aid provided by promoters, performing arts organizations, cinemas and talent advocates to provide.

Successful Grant closed venues Applicants can receive up to 45% of the annual revenue they lost to the pandemic.

Among those that are likely to apply are the Goodspeed; the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Center in Old Saybrook; the Garde Arts Center in New London; and the Strange Brew Pub, Chestnut Street Playhouse and the Norwich Arts Center, all in Norwich.

Even with reduced capacity, the Mystic Luxury Cinemas in Olde Mistick Village have been operating daily since August 22, according to owner Bill Dougherty, who said the size of its audience has grown steadily.

He has introduced new heated electric loungers and a new sound system and may benefit from the fact that other movie houses in the area will remain closed.

“We’re getting our regulars back and we’ve seen many, many new customers,” said Dougherty. “We just had a great week with Godzilla vs. Kong. … Our biggest problem was the distribution of films. “

Niantic cinemas reopened on June 19 and closed on July 30 as few films were available.

“Film companies haven’t released anything,” said George Mitchell, the theater’s owner. “We showed old films like ‘Jaws’ and ‘Jurassic Park’ and brought in eight people on a Saturday.”

He said he expected to reopen in May.

Arnold Gorlick, who owns Madison Art Cinemas in Madison, a destination for many movie buffs in southeast Connecticut, said his reopening plans depend on securing a closed-venue scholarship.

“The building has not been in use since March 15 last year and I still have a few things to do before I reopen,” he said. “I can see it in June or July if I get a scholarship.”

He noted that some movie theaters have had sizable weekend audiences lately, an indication that people enjoy watching movies.

Regal Cinemas announced that it plans to reopen its multi-screen theaters in Waterford and Pawcatuck on May 14th and 21st, respectively.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com