Netherlands proposes curfew and bans flights from UK, South Africa, and South America

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks at a press conference following a video conference with the Prime Ministers of the federal states discussing new measures to bring down the numbers of Covid-19 infections on January 19. Filip Singer/Pool/Getty Images

Germany is extending its current national lockdown until mid-February and introducing new, tougher measures as the country’s death toll continues to rise.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and her 16 state premiers agreed on Tuesday night to the extension of the lockdown, which began in December, following a marathon eight-hour discussion. Stricter mask requirements — including the use of FFP2/N95 masks on public transport and in shops — have been made mandatory across the country. The enhanced measures came after the German government was warned about the danger of the new variants of the virus. 

One sticking point in the discussions was on the subject of schools. Officials ultimately decided that they will remain closed but in the end, it is up to the federal states to mandate this.

CNN affiliate n-tv spoke to German members of public about the changes to Covid-19 restrictions, with one woman telling the local television channel that she had hoped the current lockdown’s impact would be evident by now.

“The lockdown should have brought some effects already, but we are not seeing that,” she said.

Another man backed the government’s moves, saying: “They are elected officials, and will know what is best for the population.” 

The changes come as the latest coronavirus figures were released by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Germany’s national agency for disease control and prevention, on Wednesday morning.

An additional 1,148 fatalities were recorded, bringing the total number of those having died from the disease to 48,770 — the second highest daily jump since January 14, when the death toll stood at an additional 1,244. 

A further 15,974 new Covid-19 cases were also registered, raising the total number in the country to 2,068,002, according to RKI.

When it comes to vaccinations, RKI said 1,195,543 people have been inoculated so far, with 1,195,543 people having received the first dose and 24,741 people given the second.

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