Coronavirus: Germany agrees to extend lockdown until Jan 31

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday that she has agreed with state governors to extend the country’s current lockdown by three weeks until January 31.

Merkel said they also are tightening curbs on social contacts, in line with measures imposed at the beginning of the pandemic in March. And they called for new restrictions on movement for people living in areas with particularly high infection rates.

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The decision came as new coronavirus cases and deaths are running at stubbornly high levels, and officials remain uncertain what effect the Christmas and New Year holidays have had on the situation.

Germany launched a nationwide partial shutdown on November 2, closing restaurants, bars, leisure and sports facilities. That failed to reduce infection figures, and the current lockdown — which closed nonessential shops and schools, and further limited social contacts — took effect Dec. 16. It was initially due to run through January 10.

Germany’s disease control center reported 944 more COVID-19 deaths.

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Vaccinations in Germany and the rest of the 27-nation European Union started over a week ago. In Germany, a nation of 83 million, nearly 265,000 vaccinations had been reported by Monday, the Robert Koch Institute said.

Germany has reported 35,518 virus-related deaths overall.

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