Regional governments across Germany have agreed to offer some degree of normality over Christmas, so long as the nation complies with extended coronavirus restrictions and an appeal for discipline in the weeks leading up to the festive season.
Following much debate and hand-wringing, a document setting out the 16 state premiers’ proposed course of action was seen by dpa on Tuesday.
It calls for members of one household to be allowed to meet with up to 10 other people from other households from December 23 until January 1. Children aged under 14 will be excluded from the rule.
The state premiers, whose administrations are responsible for enacting coronavirus restrictions in their respective regions, are also appealing to people to undergo a period of self-isolation prior to Christmas for a few days, in a bid to prevent infection at holiday gatherings.
Employers and schools would be urged to show flexibility to allow people to stay at home in the run-up to Christmas.
The states also want fireworks to be banned in busy public spaces, hemming in a popular way of ringing in the New Year in Germany.
A final decision on the measures is to be made on Wednesday, when the leaders are to discuss the nationwide response to the pandemic with Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The current November shutdown – which has forced the closure of bars, restaurants and leisure facilities, while bringing back a two-household limit for gatherings – is almost certain to be extended.
In fact, the 16 states are pushing for a tightening of the rule for gatherings from December 1, under which no more than five people could meet from two households. Again, children would be excluded.
A decision on whether to roll out mask-wearing in school classrooms is also expected on Wednesday.
Germany brought back sweeping national measures at the start of this month in response to a second wave of coronavirus infections.
Merkel has stressed that the restrictions have not yet had their desired effect.
On Tuesday, the country’s Robert Koch Institute for disease control added another 13,554 infections to its confirmed caseload, which now amounts to 942,687 cases in the pandemic so far.
The latest daily rise was slightly lower than the same period last week, when 14,419 new cases were recorded.
Germany’s coronavirus-related death toll increased by 249 on Tuesday to reach 14,361.