"When we reopen [after a lockdown], step-by-step, there will be a lot for us to accomplish. We will have to see where help is needed. We will have to think about such situations — I hope they will not repeat — but we cannot be sure if another problem occurs in a few years. We yet have a lot to improve, including remote learning, more formats for video-conferencing and medical assistance," Merkel said in a televised interview.
Citing the virus' frequent mutations, the German chancellor warned that "we will long have to live with the virus" and will not be out of the woods until a comprehensive vaccination campaign is arranged for.
"Maybe, the virus will be gone entirely, but as a result of mutations, just like with influenza, we will have to repeat the vaccination. We do not know it yet, but the situation will significantly improve when the majority of us get vaccinated," Merkel said, adding that she expected this to happen at the end of summer.
Germany continues to remain under a national lockdown. It was imposed on November 2 and extended until February 14 this past Monday. All non-essential businesses are closed. Schools are closed, while the closure of kindergartens is in the remit of regional authorities. Group assembly is limited to one household plus one external person. Germans were prohibited from using self-made face masks in public transport and stores.
In German regions with bad statistics, people were told to go no farther than 9 miles from home for non-essential reasons. When traveling domestically, people from such areas have to get tested twice.