Companies have sent an urgent letter to the German Chancellor pleading with her to pull back from taking action days after she threatened to tighten rules as coronavirus infections surged. The Federal Association of Medium-Sized Enterprises has said “excessive protection against infection” should not take priority over the protection of the economy.
The group warned a second COVID-19 shutdown would hit businesses harder than the first lockdown ordered in spring.
In the letter to Ms Merkel and ministers, the federation said further disruption to businesses would wreak havoc on medium-sized businesses across Germany.
Many companies have used up their financial reserves and would have to “throw up their hands” in the event of another shutdown, the letter said.
The federation said industries are still recovering from the far-reaching effects of the first lockdown.
It said medium-sized firms bore the brunt of the restrictions together with the self-employed.
It said: “Entire sectors such as gastronomy, the hotel industry, tourism or trade fair construction have been fighting for survival ever since.
“And last but not least, the art and creative scene is existentially affected.
“Experts expect an unprecedented wave of insolvencies in autumn.”
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She hit out at Germans for engaging in “careless socialising” while the pandemic was still raging.
She warned people would see restrictions tightened if they failed to abide by the rules.
She said: “If the infection numbers go down, we can open things up more; if they don’t, or if they rise, we must consider what might be necessary.
“There can be no more loosening [of the rules] at present.”
In North Rhine-Westphalia authorities in four cities are dealing with new clusters of COVID-19.
Germany has experienced a surge in infections in recent weeks.
Britons returning from Germany do not have to self-isolate for 14 days, as is the rule for people who have visited multiple other European countries.
On Friday a further 1,427 cases were confirmed, bringing the total number of infections in Germany to 230,048.
Data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed the reported death toll rose by 7 to 9,260.
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.