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Germany tightens restrictions on those unvaccinated against Covid-19

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Angela Merkel announced Thursday that Germany will introduce new restrictions for those unvaccinated against Covid-19, as the country faces a worrying spike in contaminations. The outgoing chancellor also paved the way for compulsory vaccination for nursing staff.

Germany will generalize specific restrictions for the unvaccinated, such as their exclusion from certain public places, in order to combat the surge in Covid-19 infections, outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel announced on Thursday (November 18th) at the end of a crisis meeting. The vaccination obligation for nursing staff has also been introduced.

“We need to halt the exponential rise” quickly “in new infections and intensive care bed occupancy, outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel said after a crisis meeting with regional heads of government , competent in health matters.

The meeting took place as the number of new infections jumped by 65,371 in 24 hours, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute for Public Health (RKI), unheard of since the start of the pandemic.

The fourth wave of the pandemic, described as “highly dramatic” by the departing leader, hit Europe’s leading economy in the midst of a power vacuum, with Angela Merkel’s government on the one hand responsible for handling current affairs, while the three parties SPD, Greens and Liberals are negotiating to form a new executive at the beginning of December.

But the virus, “it does not matter to him,” noted the one who will hand over the reins of the country after 16 years in power, during a press conference.

Drastic limitations for the unvaccinated

In detail, the leaders recommended drastically limiting the social life of the unvaccinated.

Measures targeting them are already in force in the affected regions. They will be extended to the whole of the territory.

The so-called “2G” rule, which allows only the vaccinated (“geimpfte”) and the cured (“genesene”) to access public places such as restaurants or concert halls will be applied as soon as the hospitalization threshold exceeds three patients with Covid-19 per 100,000 inhabitants, which is already the case in twelve of the country’s sixteen regional states.

According to this provision, presenting a negative test is no longer sufficient if the person is not vaccinated. The city-state of Berlin is already applying this measure.

►To see: Covid-19: the fourth wave in Germany, a warning for the rest of Europe?

When the hospitalization threshold exceeds the value of six, the vaccinated and cured must, in addition to their certificate, have a negative test to access a list of establishments. Closures of shops, restaurants or bars in the regions are not excluded as a last resort.

On the other hand, the schools will remain open, but the pupils subjected to regular tests.

Officials have also decided on a massive return to teleworking wherever possible and an obligation to have a health pass in transport and in the workplace.

Access to care centers or retirement homes for visitors and nursing staff will only be granted upon presentation of a test of less than 24 hours, including for vaccinated or cured people.

Recently, at least 11 elderly people have died, and several were infected at a health center in Brandenburg, where only half of the caregivers were vaccinated.

Compulsory vaccination for caregivers

A sign of the emergency raging in the country, the leaders decided to introduce a compulsory Covid-19 vaccination for the staff of hospitals and retirement homes, which Angela Merkel’s government had until here refused.

But the timetable for applying this measure is still unclear.

“Vaccination is and remains the way out of the pandemic,” insisted German officials, urging those undecided to show “solidarity” and to take the plunge.

Vaccination is intended to become compulsory for professional footballers, they further announced.

In Germany, only 67.8% of the population is fully vaccinated, according to the latest figures from the RKI.

The booster vaccinations, recommended since Thursday by the STIKO vaccine committee for the entire adult population after six months, are in their infancy.

The rapid implementation of these measures remains pending the validation on Friday by the Bundesrat, the upper house of Parliament, of a new epidemiological law, which sets the legal framework.

Developed by the SPD, the Greens and the Liberals, it was already adopted Thursday by the members of the Bundestag at the end of a heated debate, the conservatives judging the text “insufficient” to fight effectively against the pandemic.

With AFP

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