Berlin (dpa) - The people in Germany need patience in the corona pandemic: The federal and state governments have extended the lockdown to mid-February out of concern about the virus mutation.
Schools and daycare centers should also remain closed until then, according to the decision.
But there were indications that the countries will implement this controversial decision differently.
For example, Baden-Württemberg's Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann (Greens) announced that elementary schools and daycare centers are expected to be gradually and carefully reopened from February 1 - “if the infection situation allows”.
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, on the other hand, sharpened schools and daycare centers: in two districts with higher numbers of infections, they are only allowed to open up for emergency care.
The federal and state governments had passionately discussed how to deal with schools in the hour-long meeting.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said the negotiation was shaped by the question of what parents and children could be expected to do with.
Federal Education Minister Anja Karliczek (CDU) told the editorial network Germany (RND): "Keeping schools and daycare centers almost completely closed is certainly one of the toughest political decisions at the beginning of this year."
But it is necessary in view of the development of the pandemic.
Federal Family Minister Franziska Giffey called for clear perspectives for children and parents.
"As soon as the infection process allows, childcare offers must be the first to open again," said the SPD politician to the newspapers of the Funke media group.
The President of the German Teachers' Association, Heinz-Peter Meidinger, told the “Augsburger Allgemeine” that he hoped that “the big entry will be successful again” in mid-February.
The association therefore supports the decision by the federal and state governments to keep the facilities largely closed until February 14th.
In the federal-state talks, some rules were tightened.
Better protective FFP2 masks or surgical masks must be worn on buses and trains as well as when shopping - everyday masks made of fabric are no longer sufficient.
The federal states themselves decide when the new rules apply. Several state governments will discuss this on Wednesday.
Stricter rules are also provided in the workplace.
Employers must allow work from home if that is possible.
Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) called on employees and companies to make massive use of the new home office options.
At the same time, he warned employers in "Bild live" against arbitrarily canceling the option to work from home and announced controls.
The parliamentary manager of the left-wing parliamentary group, Jan Korte, criticized that home office duties should have come much earlier.
SPD health politician Karl Lauterbach warned the federal states to implement the Corona resolutions.
"The decisions are correct without any ifs or buts," he told the news portal t-online.
"But they only work if they are controlled and implemented by the federal states."
Merkel said the mutation probably makes the virus much more contagious.
"To a certain extent, there is still time to contain all the danger."
But action must be taken now, otherwise the number of infections could rapidly rise sharply.
It is about provisions for the country and the citizens, but also for the economy and the world of work.
According to experts, the numbers are currently far too high to dare to relax.
"We are currently with just under 5000 intensive care patients in Germany - we still have to go down significantly," the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive and Emergency Medicine told the Rheinische Post.
The number of new infections reported within seven days per 100,000 inhabitants (seven-day incidence) is still more than 130 nationwide - the target value is 50.
The President of the German Medical Association, Klaus Reinhardt, said: «The hard lockdown decided in December is working.
We can see that in the gradually declining number of new infections and in the somewhat stabilizing situation in the intensive care units.
The SPD leaders Saskia Esken and Norbert Walter-Borjans welcomed the federal-state resolutions.
People are increasingly weary from the restrictions in the private sphere.
It is therefore right not to make any further restrictions here, said Esken.
"Instead, we should focus on working life and allow and use home office wherever possible."
The Green health expert Janosch Dahmen criticized too indecisive action in the race against the virus mutations.
"The old measures with a few additions are not sufficient against the new threat situation," said the Bundestag member of the German Press Agency.
Rapid tests for personal use would be an important addition.
FDP deputy Wolfgang Kubicki accused Merkel of making an incomprehensible policy.
Since the end of October one has only heard slogans to persevere that "in a few weeks" easing would come, he told the internet portal watson.
Merkel wanted to push through the path that "cost what it may".
The German Association of Cities considers the extension of the lockdown and the additional measures necessary.
City Council President Burkhard Jung told the dpa: "Loosening up and opening up discussions would give people false hope at the moment."
We now need one more great joint effort in the fight against the pandemic in order to break the wave of infections. "
In the worst case, the Chancellor did not rule out new border controls.
"We don't want that, we want to come to an agreement with our neighbors in partnership," she emphasized.
"But we cannot see that the entry simply comes because other countries are going very different ways," she said, referring to how the pandemic was dealt with.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 210120-99-93475 / 3