German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday that people who are not vaccinated will be excluded from non-essential shops, cultural and recreational venues, and parliament will consider a general vaccination mandate, as part of an effort to curb the coronavirus infections which again exceeded 70,000 new confirmed cases in a 24 hour period.
Speaking after a meeting with federal and state leaders, Merkel said the measures were necessary amid fears that German hospitals could be overloaded with people with covid-19 infections, who are more likely to be serious in those who have not been vaccinated. .
“The situation is that our country is serious,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin, calling the measure “an act of national solidarity”.
Germany’s disease control agency reported 73,209 new confirmed cases on Thursday. The Robert Koch Institute also reported 388 new deaths from covid-19, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 102,178.
About 68.7% of the German population is fully vaccinated, well below the minimum of 75% target by the government. She said authorities had also agreed to require masks in schools, place new limits on private meetings and target 30 million vaccinations by the end of the year.
Merkel also said Parliament would debate the possibility of imposing a general mandate on vaccines that would take effect as early as February.
Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, who is due to be elected chancellor by a center-left coalition next week, said this week he supports a general mandate on vaccines, but is in favor of lawmakers voting according to their personal conscience.
The increase in covid-19 cases in recent weeks and the arrival of the new omicron variant have prompted scientists and doctors to warn that the country’s medical services could become overwhelmed in the coming weeks, unless drastic measures cannot be taken.
Some hospitals in the south and east of the country have already transferred patients to other parts of Germany due to a shortage of intensive care beds.
Europe is currently facing an increase in coronavirus cases forcing countries in the region to tighten restrictions. From Saturday December 4, France will require all visitors from non-EU countries to provide a negative Covid test result upon entry into the country, regardless of their vaccination status.
Meanwhile, Austria’s national lockdown that began on November 22 has been extended until at least December 11, amid early data signaling that the current restrictions are aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.
Ursula von der Leyen said this week that a discussion is needed to make vaccines mandatory in Europe.
She made the comments as the committee urged EU27 countries to rapidly deploy booster vaccines. “If you look at the numbers, we now have 77% of adults in the European Union vaccinated or if you take the whole population, it’s 66%. And that means that a third of the European population is not vaccinated. It’s 150 million people, ”she said.
“How can we encourage and potentially reflect on compulsory vaccination within the European Union, this needs to be discussed. This requires a common approach, but it is a discussion which I think needs to be conducted, ”added the EU chief.
The Independent Gt