As German consumers venture back out into public, businesses have been waiting with bated breath to see how much in-store traffic they’ll get. Now the return to brick-and-mortar shopping has been hampered by a rise in new COVID-19 cases.
The Toennies meat-packing plant in Verl, Germany reported that 1,300 workers out of around 7,000 employees have tested positive for COVID-19, prompting the North Rhine-Westphalia premier to place the Guetersloh district back under lockdown until the end of June, hoping that will stem the tide of new cases.
That means around 360,000 Germans are returning to home quarantine. All the bars, museums, theaters, gyms, swimming pools, schools, and day-care centers that were opening will now have to close again for the rest of June.
Prime Minister Angela Merkel prioritized measures to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus early on in the pandemic. Germany implemented effective stay-at-home policies, encouraged wearing protective gear, and were one of the few countries in the world to implement a contact-tracing system.
Although some may speculate whether lockdown procedures are really necessary, global data now confirms that among all the precautions to reduce the spread of the virus, one of the simplest, wearing masks, appears to be the most effective.
In Thailand, for instance, 95% of Thais say they wear a mask every time they go out in public. As a result, by early June, the country had a total of 3,157 confirmed cases and 58 deaths, much less than other countries its size. Global data strongly shows that countries where people started wearing masks early in the pandemic have death rates 100 times lower than initial COVID-19 projections.
By comparison, Germany has 192,127 confirmed cases and 8,909 deaths, lower than many of its neighbors.
The outbreak in North Rhine-Westphalia is not an isolated case. Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Berlin have a rising number of new cases as well. This will no doubt delay the return of shoppers to retail stores as the following chart indicates.