The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.
“The great aim is to gain time in the fight against the virus,” Chancellor Angela Merkel told a press briefing on Sunday.
Under the new measures, people will be prohibited from gathering in groups of more than two in public for at least the next 14 days, Merkel said, explaining that “our own behaviour” was the “most effective way” of slowing the spread of the virus.
People will only be allowed of form groups of more than two if they live together in the same household or the gathering is work-related, Merkel said.
Merkel urged citizens to maintain a distance of at least 1.5 meters, or 5 feet, from others when in public, and to stay indoors as much as possible.
As part of a bundle of stricter rules across every German state, restaurants will now only be open for takeaway services and hairdressers, beauty and massage studios, and tattoo parlours must close. Other non-essential shops had already been closed.
“We are reducing public life and social interaction further and we are making sure to impose the same rules in principle across Germany,” Merkel said. “None of us wished that we would ever have to face the people with such rules.”
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, Germany has reported just under 25,000 COVID-19 cases, with 94 succumbing to the deadly disease.
Shortly after her announcement, the 65-year-old on went into self-quarantine after it emerged she had come into contact with a doctor who tested positive for the virus.
Merkel will continue to work from her household, and will undergo multiple tests for the CCP virus in the coming days, her spokesman said in a statement, adding it was too soon for a conclusive test yet.
The German chancellor came into contact with the infected doctor on Friday when she had received a vaccine shot against pneumococcus, a pneumonia-causing bacteria, according to the statement.
Elsewhere in Europe, which is now considered the epicenter of the global epidemic, governments have imposed tighter travel restrictions and escalated their emergency responses amid a rising death toll.
Italy, which has just under 60,000 COVID-19 virus cases and 5,476 deaths, banned travel within the country after freezing non-essential business activity. Spain wants to extend until April 11 a state of emergency it imposed this month. The country has reported over 28,000 cases of the virus with 1,772 deaths.
Reuters contributed to this report.