“We must continue to make efforts (…). The daily number of infections (with the new coronavirus) is still too high “, the chancellor announced after more than seven hours of talks, on Wednesday evening, with the leaders of the 16 German states.

Restrictions decided at a previous meeting in November will thus apply “by the beginning of January, unless there is an unexpected decrease in the infection rate (with SARS-CoV-2), but this is, at this stage, unlikely, “she said.

The infection rate in Germany on Wednesday reached 139.6 per 100,000 inhabitants – and 195.3 per 100,000 in Berlin – far from the target of 50 / 100,000.

Germany on Wednesday recorded 961,320 officially declared covid-19 cases (+18,633 in 24 hours) and 14,771 deaths from covid-19 (+410, a new “record”), according to the Robert Koch Institute.

The symbolic level of one million cases is to be reached in the coming days.

Bars, restaurants, cultural venues or sports clubs would remain closed for more than a month.

Access to stores will be restricted to a limited number of customers – depending on their area.

The only relaxation granted by German leaders is that private meetings will be able to reach ten people – from December 23 to January 1, without including children up to 14 years old in this number. Outside this period, private meetings are limited to five people.

Firecrackers and fireworks, much appreciated by the Germans for the holidays, will be banned in the markets and on the busiest streets.

The schools will remain open until the holidays, on December 19, the text also negotiated by the chancellor with the 16 Länder and sent to the press.

Merkel invited the Germans not to go abroad during the Christmas holidays, especially for ski stays.

The federal government and the regions will also ask the European Union (EU) to ban ski stays until January 10 to prevent the virus from spreading.

Bavaria, heavily beset by German skiers, overtook this warning and closed its Christmas resorts on Tuesday.

But neighboring Austria is at the other extreme and plans to open its ski slopes.

Austria is still considered by Germany to be a risky territory, where the virus is actively circulating. One of the busiest resorts – Ischgl – was a major source of contamination last winter, where tourists from several European countries became infected.

Asked what steps Germany will take in the EU, Merkel acknowledged that she has little chance of doing so.

“I will be honest with you. It will probably not be easy, but we will try, “she told a news conference.