Merkel to hold emergency meeting; proposal that retail close from Wednesday to January 10th

Germany is facing a lightning lockdown of schools and retail from Wednesday in a desperate effort to control spiralling Covid-19 cases before Christmas.
Chancellor Angela Merkel is holding an emergency meeting with state leaders on Sunday to discuss proposals that would curtail the years busiest shopping season by more than a week.
All retail would be forced to close from Wednesday until January 10th, according to the draft proposals under discussion, with exceptions for food, drink and drug stores. Other premises allowed remain open include pharmacies, petrol stations, opticians, bike shops and banks.
All hairdressers, cosmetic, massage and tattoo studios would be forced to close, with heightened distancing rules for all religious services.
Schools will also be basically closed during the period, and employers will be asked to close operations or have employees work from home, according to the draft. In addition, the proposals suggest a complete ban on the sale of fireworks and the consumption of alcoholic drinks in public, in an effort to curtail pre-Christmas mulled wine gatherings and prevent crowds mingling on New Years Eve.
Travel abroad will not be banned but is strongly discouraged. The preliminary proposals, likely to be agreed on Sunday, would limit Christmas gatherings to five people from two households, excluding children under 14, down from 10 people from any number of households.
The draft proposals noted how the latest lockdown lite measures, agreed on November 25th by state leaders, halted the exponential rise of Covid-19 cases but were not enough to see them fall.
Increasing mobility and the corresponding contacts in the pre-Christmas period indicate indicate a rising trend in the infection figures, the paper added, as daily infection rates top 20,000.
Leading German retailers, who earn a fifth of their annual 500 billion turnover in December, said the proposals the preliminary proposals would seal, irreversibly, the insolvency of thousands of traders and the unemployment of millions of people.
The failure of corona politics must not be allowed become the death knell for German city-centre traders, concluded the letter, signed by leading clothes and sport retailers.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 20,200 to 1,320,716, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed on Sunday. The reported death toll rose by 321 to 21,787, the tally showed.