Strict anti-coronavirus measures will not be lifted in Germany anytime soon, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier has said, arguing that repeatedly imposing and lifting restrictions only worsens the epidemic and the economy.

The recently imposed measures, dubbed “lockdown light” by German media, will not end soon, Altmaier told Bild, pointing to the soaring number of new daily cases.

We’re not out of the woods yet… We cannot afford a yo-yo shutdown with the economy constantly opening and closing.

Lifting restrictions prematurely is harmful not only for the country’s economy, but for the epidemic situation as well, Altmaier argued. He cited the experience of other nations, which were quick to lift most of the anti-Covid measures but were badly hit by a second wave of the pandemic afterwards.

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“If we don’t want days with 50,000 new infections, as was the case in France a few weeks ago, we must see through this and not constantly speculate about which measures can be relaxed again,” he said.

All countries that lifted their restrictions too early have so far paid a high price in terms of human lives lost.

German authorities rolled out the month-long “lockdown light” in early November, primarily targeting social life and heavily restricting the ability of the country’s residents to interact with each other in person. Pubs, theaters, gyms, as well as other public venues have been shut down, while restaurants have been allowed to operate for takeout only.

While the restrictions are already in place for two weeks, the number of new daily cases registered in Germany continues to grow. On Friday, the country set a new grim record, reporting some 23,542 new coronavirus patients, according to the German federal agency responsible for tackling infectious diseases, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).

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German Health Minister Jens Spahn has already hinted that the restrictions could remain in place beyond November, but has admitted that it’s “too early” to tell how well they’ve worked. Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to meet the heads of Germany’s states on Monday, reviewing the measures and determining their effectiveness.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Germany has registered nearly 800,000 coronavirus patients with more than 12,500 deaths. The spread has accelerated recently, putting the country among the worst coronavirus-hit nations in Europe, which include France, Spain, the UK and Italy.

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