The tighter restrictions — including a ban on gatherings over the New Year — will last until at least Jan. 10 after a looser shutdown failed to halt a surge in daily coronavirus infections and deaths. Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed the measures with the heads of Germany’s 16 states in talks Sunday and warned of rising pressure on the nation’s health system.

“There is an urgent need for action,” Merkel told a news conference. “We have seen rising infections and exponential growth in recent days and that means that we have to grieve many dead.”

After comfortably handling the initial wave of the pandemic, the country is lagging behind many of its neighbors, and officials came under increasing pressure to act days before Christmas. Infections and fatalities rose by record amounts on Friday, and almost 22,000 have died from the disease, out of a total of 1.3 million cases.