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German states plan to let up to 10 people celebrate Christmas together

German states plan to let up to 10 people celebrate Christmas together

FILE PHOTO: People wear protective face masks as they walk beside Christmas decoration at a shopping mall amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Berlin, Germany, November 21, 2020. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

BERLIN: Germany's 16 federal states plan to allow gatherings of up to 10 people over Christmas and New Year, offering some relaxation of coronavirus restrictions to let families and friends celebrate together, a draft proposal showed on Tuesday (Nov 24).

The premiers of the states are due to discuss their plans with Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday. 

Berlin mayor Michael Mueller told ARD television he was confident the measures, agreed by the leaders late on Monday, would be adopted.

The premiers of two states also said there was broad agreement to extend a national "lockdown light" until Dec. 20 to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, to make family gatherings over Christmas possible.

Germany closed bars, restaurants and entertainment venues on Nov. 2 for a month. Schools and shops remain open while private gatherings have been limited to a maximum of 10 people from two households.

READ: In coronavirus-hit Europe even St Nicholas told to keep distance at Christmas

Under the new plans, private gatherings would be limited to a maximum of five people until the Christmas period. In addition, fireworks would be banned in public places on New Year's Eve to avoid large numbers of people gathering.

But the relaxation over Christmas is aimed at bringing some relief to families.

"Christmas and other end-of-year festivities should be possible as celebrations with family and friends even in this unusual year, albeit on a smaller scale," the draft said.

The premiers also agreed to extend into December aid for firms hit by the restrictions introduced in November.

The daily number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany rose by 13,554 in the latest 24-hour period to 942,687, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) said on Tuesday. 

The reported overall death toll was 14,361.

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Source: Reuters/ga

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