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German president says worst of pandemic is over in Christmas address

German President Frank Walter Steinmeier

The pandemic has cast a dark shadow over Christmas celebrations in Germany, but after having lived with the coronavirus for nearly a year there is “every reason to be confident” life will soon get better, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier says.

“We still have a long, even arduous road ahead of us,” Steinmeier says in a speech to the nation to air on Christmas Day, a copy of which was made available in advance to dpa.

“But we see the long-awaited light at the end of the tunnel getting brighter. We are coming closer to exiting the crisis, step by step,” citing the start of Germany’s vaccination campaign on Sunday.

Germans have had to forego many festive traditions with the country under lockdown, from the cancelling of Christmas markets to limits on the size of gatherings with friends and family.

Steinmeier, who has held the largely symbolic German presidency since March 2017, described the coronavirus crisis’ social and personal costs.

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“A tiny virus has taken hold of our lives and our thinking, thwarted plans and destroyed dreams,” the 64-year-old says, adding:”[The pandemic] has reminded us of how vulnerable we humans are, how fragile what we call our ‘normal life’ is.”

He also took the opportunity to mention a vocal minority of Germans who have staged rallies against coronavirus restrictions and promoted baseless conspiracy theories about its origins.

He said people who denied the danger of the virus often attracted a lot of attention, “but the sensible ones are the vast majority.”

And that, he said, was the good news this year.

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