The German Government has announced restrictions are to be imposed on those unvaccinated against COVID-19 in an attempt to curb the current fourth wave.
After a German State-Regions emergency conference, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a decision to make vaccination mandatory for health care workers and, in particular, those groups in contact with vulnerable people. Merkel was joined by Westfalia president Hendrik Wuest, at the press conference in Berlin.
We know that we would be better off if the hole for the unvaccinated was not so big. We would not have had to resort to current measures if more people were vaccinated, Merkel stressed as she announced limitations to public life for the unvaccinated.
The situation is very dramatic, Merkel stressed. It is time to act, she added, explaining that the current growth dynamics of the virus mark a very difficult situation.
The sole criteria for today's meeting was to reach the best decisions in the dramatic situation of the infection in which we find ourselves and to slow down the exponential growth, she added.
We cannot afford to double the number of beds occupied in intensive care, she went on.
The meeting of national and regional officials has set thresholds beyond which tougher measures are used, Merkel said, confirming rumours that emerged during the summit about the extension of the 2G model that partially excludes those not vaccinated from public life in case the hospitalization rate exceeds 3. If the rate stays below 3 in five days, the restrictions will be eased. On the other hand, if the rate exceeds the number 6, those with the full vaccination scheme or who have recovered from Covid-19 will have to present a negative diagnostic test for the disease to access public facilities.
According to German press reports, facilities focused on leisure, culture or sports will only be accessible to people with the full vaccination schedule or who have recovered from COVID-19.
Children under the age of 18 - the vast majority of those unvaccinated in Germany - are exempt from complying with the limitations.
The restrictions come after the German authorities reported Thursday more than 65,000 new cases of coronavirus counted in the last day, while the accumulated weekly incidence amounts to 336.9 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, which represents an all-time high for the second consecutive day.
The Robert Koch Institute has said on its website that during the last 24 hours there had been 65,371 infections and 264 deaths, which brings the country's totals to 5,195,321 and 98,538, respectively.
Merkel also noted that the goal is to deliver 27 million vaccines as soon as possible. So far, 4.8 million of Germany's more than 83 million people have received booster doses.