Germany’s Merkel pushes for tougher coronavirus curbs in schools, close contacts

Germany began a new round of shutdowns in November, closing restaurants, cultural venues and leisure facilities to curb transmission of COVID-19. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 16 November 2020

Germany’s Merkel pushes for tougher coronavirus curbs in schools, close contacts

  • Europe’s biggest economy began a new round of shutdowns in November
  • Germany has fared relatively well in the first wave of the pandemic

BERLIN: Chancellor Angela Merkel will on Monday push for tougher curbs including masks in all schools, smaller class sizes and drastic limits on contacts to bring down coronavirus infections in Germany.
Outside work or school, contact between people should also be “restricted to those from another fixed household,” according to a proposal by Merkel’s office and which would be put to regional leaders of Germany’s 16 states later Monday.
Europe’s biggest economy began a new round of shutdowns in November, closing restaurants, cultural venues and leisure facilities to curb transmission of COVID-19.
But while new cases are plateauing, the daily numbers are still too high for officials to determine the infection chain and thereby break the transmission.
During talks to take stock of the situation, Merkel will seek to get state premiers to sign up to drastically limiting contacts.
All private parties should be canceled until Christmas, the document proposes.
Children and youths should pick just one specific friend to meet up with outside school hours.
To ensure that schools are kept open as long as possible, the chancellery has also suggested that classes “without exceptions be broken up into fixed groups, where the size of groups in classrooms are halved compared to normal operations.”
An alternative is to use larger rooms for classes, according to the draft.
The document also urges anyone with signs of a cold, including a cough or runny nose, to self-isolate for five to seven days until they are free of symptoms again.
Germany has fared relatively well in the first wave of the pandemic, but numbers have dramatically shot up in the autumn.
On Monday, it reported 10,824 new cases in the last 24 hours, bringing total infections to date to 801,327. Some 12,547 people have died from the virus.


New Zealand regulator charges 13 parties over White Island eruption tragedy

Updated 59 sec ago

New Zealand regulator charges 13 parties over White Island eruption tragedy

  • 22 people were killed in last year's surprise eruption on the White Island

WELLINGTON: New Zealand’s workplace regulator will file charges against 13 parties following an investigation into a volcanic eruption on White Island in 2019 which killed 22 people, state broadcaster 1NEWS said on Monday.
A surprise eruption on the White Island, also known by its Maori name of Whakaari, on Dec 9 last year, killed 22 people and injured dozens.
Majority of them were tourists who were part of a cruise ship that was traveling around New Zealand and were from countries like Australia, the United States and Malaysia. There were 47 people on the island when the volcano erupted.
Worksafe, New Zealand’s primary regulator for workplace related incidents, will charge 10 parties under the Health and Safety at Work Act which has a maximum fine of NZ$1.5 million ($1.06 million), the report said.
Three individuals would be charged as directors or individuals who were required to exercise due diligence to ensure the company meets its health and safety obligations. These charges each carry a maximum fine of $300,000, it added.
WorkSafe is not naming those charged as they may seek suppression orders in their first appearance in court on Dec 15, 1NEWS reported.
The coroner is conducting a separate inquiry into the incident. A coronial investigation is automatically triggered in the event of a sudden, violent or unnatural death.
At the time of the eruption questions were raised why people were allowed on the island, a popular destination for day-trippers, given there was reportedly a heightened risk of an eruption.