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Angela Merkel pleads with people in Germany to avoid ‘last Christmas with the grandparents’ as COVID-19 deaths continue to climb

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has appealed to people living in Germany to act responsibly and help the country retain its strengths in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In her speech to the German Bundestag during the debate on the 2021 budget, Chancellor Merkel renewed her appeal to reduce contacts and take scientific recommendations seriously.

The spending in the draft budget for 2021 is dominated by moves to address the pandemic, and by the consequences of COVID-19. “We are living in exceptional times. We are facing a challenge, the like of which the Federal Republic of Germany has never seen,” she explained, justifying the estimated new borrowing of almost 180 billion euros.

She stressed that Germany was currently “at a critical phase, perhaps at the critical phase, of efforts to fight the pandemic“.

The second wave is tough, and in spite of the contact restrictions in place, the trend in new cases has not been reversed. “Case numbers are far too high,” Ms Merkel said. There are too many people in intensive care, and there are too many deaths.

The Chancellor paid tribute to victims and thanked the doctors and nurses who are fighting every day to save the sick. “I must say quite openly that we don’t thank them enough. An enormous thank you for what you are doing, and for everything they are achieving.”

As the festive approaches, Ms Merkel appealed to all the people in Germany to be vigilant. “If we have too many contacts now, before Christmas, and this ends up being the last Christmas we have with our grandparents, we will have done something wrong,” she warned.

For a free and open country like Germany, it is not bans and controls that are the most important keys to successfully tackling the pandemic, but the need “for every individual to act responsibly, and be willing to be part of the solution”. The vast majority of people have shown that they are ready and willing to be considerate, to put aside their own interests and to do the right thing, said the Chancellor. “I am convinced that the vast majority of the population is still willing to do so. And I am heartily grateful,” she underscored.