Berlin is playing extra time. Initially scheduled for February 14, the lifting of health restrictions will only take place on March 7, announced German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday February 10, despite encouraging epidemiological results.
→ READ. In Germany, containment in stages and curves that are reversing
Germany today records between 6,000 and 7,000 cases per day against 24,000 in mid-December, or 68 cases per 100,000 inhabitants against 164 two months earlier. The incidence rate should however not exceed 35 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over seven consecutive days for the various counties to lift restrictions on shops, galleries and museums, the government warned. Initially, this threshold was 50 per 100,000 inhabitants.
The unknown of variants
Since December 15, the Germans have been living in slow motion. Non-food businesses, restaurants, cafes, museums, sports facilities and schools always keep the door closed. The arrival of the British and South African variants has changed the situation. “We have this great uncertainty about the mutation. We must be very clear: it will take over (…) if we do not obtain better traceability, it can happen very quickly that we again have exponential growth ” the number of cases, Angela Merkel worried Wednesday.
The next day, Germany announced the closure of its borders with the Czech Republic and the Austrian region of Tyrol (largest home of the South African variant in Europe) for Sunday evening.
“Germany wants to regain control of the circulation of the virus and is betting that the end of the road will not be very long, that life will be able to resume in a way much closer to life before”, notes Antoine Flahault, epidemiologist and director of the Institute for Global Health at the University of Geneva. Objective: to spend the spring (almost) normally, at all costs. “It is a strategy that I defend for all of Europe”, continues the epidemiologist; “It is quite close to that which the Pacific countries have developed and which allows them to have a better health, social and economic response. “
A slight growl
But the news is starting to stir up a stir. The German vaccine campaign is slowing down like its European neighbors, due to a lack of sufficient supplies. And like its European neighbors, the patience of the Germans is dwindling after two months of semi-confinement. The acceptance rate of restrictions fell from 65% in early January to 50% in February, according to a YouGov survey released this week.
Nevertheless, “The majority accepts it”, notes Hans Stark, professor of German civilization at the Sorbonne. French student in Germany, Marie testifies: “People here really pay more attention than in France. Even young people my age don’t go to parties or go out for a walk with someone. I believe that the fact that a lot is left to the goodwill of people has a big impact: we always think about what we should do and not what we really want to do! “
Unlike in France, there is no need for certificates to exit, nor are there checks. Relatively spared during the first wave, Germany suffered the full force of the second, reaching, at its peak in January, nearly 800 daily deaths. “The proportion of people over 65 is higher in Germany than in France. There are more people to protect and therefore the Germans are for strict measures ”, concludes Hans Stark.