Germany Locks Down to Protect Healthcare System

Beginning Dec. 16, all of Germany will be subject to stricter coronavirus restrictions to reduce infections following a meeting with the chancellor and the 16 state governors. Schools will close and restaurants will be confined to take-out service.

December 15, 2020, 12:00 PM PST

By Irvin Dawid

Düsseldorf Stadtbahn

A scene from the Düsseldorf Stadtbahn in August. | Peeradontax / Shutterstock

Much like the new coronavirus restrictions in California that took effect on December 7, Germany is taking strong action to reduce viral spread and spare hospitals from being overwhelmed.

"The health system is under heavy strain and our aim has always been to avoid an overloading of the health care system," Chancellor Angela Merkel told Deutsche Welle (DW) on December 13.

Germany's intensive care unit capacity is also at a critical level, and doctors have warned that only 5% to 10% of intensive care beds are available in some parts of the country.

U.S. comparison

A major difference between restrictions in Germany compared to California is that Chancellor Angela Merkel is taking action much earlier than any American governor has done in this phase of the pandemic.

Berlin-based Frank Jordans reports for the AP (source article) on the rise in the daily new cases from two weeks ago to a seven-day rolling average of 26 cases per 100,000 people on December 13 (per The New York Times global tracker). According to the Harvard Global Health Institute's Key Metrics for COVID Suppression, when case incidence exceeds 25 per 100k, stay-at-home orders are recommended.

By contrast, the United States is averaging 63.3 cases per 100k as of December 13 according to the Times U.S. tracker 

Like three of the five regions of California subject to the new Regional Stay Home Order (posted here), the German restrictions will shut down outdoor dining, the subject of current litigation in Los Angeles County, and personal care services, including salons and barbershops. 

California, with the nation's highest infection growth rate of 1.26 on December 13, according to Covid Act Now, is averaging 79 cases per 100k; Los Angeles County at 108 per 100k.

Rhode Island lesson

Rhode Island continues to lead the nation with 107 cases per 100k. In a recent post, Providence-based GoLocalProv contributor, Nick Landekic, put the blame for the state's outbreak on "the mismanagement of the crisis by our political leaders."

Close downs work. They are the only thing that works in the pandemic, and especially when the situation has been allowed to get as totally out of control as it has in Rhode Island.

Government aid promised

Unlike the United States, where Congress has been unable to agree on funding a follow-up to the CARES Act, "Germany's finance minister...promised financial support for businesses and individuals affected by the stricter measures," according to DW. The new restrictions will be in effect until at least January 10.

Related in Planetizen:

Sunday, December 13, 2020 in Associated Press

A image of the World's Columbian Exposition overlayed with a picture of Keanu Reeves in the rain from the movie Point Break.

Keanu Reeves Set to Play Daniel Burnham in ‘The Devil in the White City’

Planning is going to get a new level of star power as a limited series adaptation of The Devil in the White City gets ready for television screens in 2024.

August 8, 2022 - Reel Chicago


Opinion: Aging Population, Declining Fertility Requires Long-Term Investments

Faced with the dire consequences of a one-two punch of aging populations and declining birthrates, one writer has suggestions for how policy can help ensure a better future.

August 9, 2022 - Financial Times

View from middle of street in downtown Telluride, Colorado with mountains in background

Marrying Urban Identity and Economic Prosperity

A new book posits that truly successful communities have a strong economic base and a firmly rooted sense of place.

August 5, 2022 - Governing

Aerial view of downtown San Antonio with Tower Life Building in foreground

San Antonio Office Tower To Become Residential

With the building more than half vacant, the new owners of the Tower Life Building plan to convert the historic tower into residences that could include affordable housing.

36 minutes ago - San Antonio Report


Freeway Removal Movement Slowly Gains Steam

Although the concept has recently received more national attention thanks in part to the federal Reconnecting Communities Act, cities have shown reluctance to support highway removal projects.

1 hour ago - Governing

Accessible elevator sign with arrow on a New York City subway platform

MTA Uses Density Bonuses to Improve Accessibility

Under a new zoning law, New York City developers can receive density bonuses for building elevators and other accessibility upgrades for the city’s subway system.

2 hours ago - Queens Eagle

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.