Government ministers in Germany have approved a new law giving Berlin the power to impose lockdown rules across the country.
If MPs pass the legislation, restrictions will be automatically introduced in regions with a spike in COVID-19 infections.
States will still be able to impose more flexible rules in regions with fewer than 100 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned the law is needed as the situation in Germany remains critical.
“The nationwide emergency brake is overdue because even if it is difficult to hear again today the situation is serious,” she said. “And we must all take it seriously too. The third wave of the pandemic has our country firmly in its grip.”
The last time Merkel suggested a lockdown just before Easter, it proved so unpopular that she was forced to perform a rare U-turn.
Government ministers also agreed that companies will need to offer all employees who aren’t working from home at least one coronavirus test each week and that parents will get more paid leave to care for children who cannot go to school due to the pandemic.
Since the start of the pandemic, Germany has registered more than 3 million infections and 78,746 deaths from COVID-19.
Learn more from our reporter in Germany, Kate Brady, by watching the video in the player above.