German minister says partial lockdown could last until Spring 2021


FILE PHOTO: German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier and Philipp Steinberg from the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) hold a joint news conference to present the government's economic autumn projection, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Berlin, Germany October 30, 2020. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi/Pool/File Photo

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's partial lockdown measures could be extended until early Spring if infections are not brought under control, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said in a newspaper interview published on Saturday.

Altmaier told Die Welt it was not possible to give the all-clear while there were incidences of more than 50 infections per 100,000 inhabitants in large parts of Germany.

"We have three to four long winter months ahead of us," he was quoted as saying. "It is possible that the restrictions will remain in place in the first months of 2021."

Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed with leaders of Germany's 16 federal states on Wednesday to extend and tighten measures against the coronavirus until at least Dec. 20.

Germany imposed a "lockdown light" in early November, which closed bars and restaurants but allowed schools and shops to stay open. The measures have stopped the exponential growth of cases but infections have stabilised at a high level.

There were 21,695 new confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Saturday, bringing total cases since the pandemic began to 1,028,089.

(Reporting by Caroline Copley; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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