Germany to Tighten COVID-19 Restrictions on Unvaccinated

Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her likely successor, current Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, Thursday announced new restrictions on the nation’s unvaccinated in an effort to fight the surge in new COVID-19 infections.

Merkel and Scholz told reporters in Berlin that under the new rules, the unvaccinated will be excluded from nonessential stores and cultural and recreational venues. They made the announcement following a meeting with the governors of Germany’s 16 states.

Merkel said parliament will also consider imposing a general coronavirus vaccine mandate as part of the country faces a fourth wave of infections. Germany’s Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases (RKI) says the nation once again Thursday exceeded 70,000 new cases in a 24-hour period.

The infection rate stood at just more than 439 cases per 100,000 people, down for the third consecutive day.

Merkel said the fact the nation was in the middle of such a strong fourth wave was depressing, “especially when I look at certain regions. That’s why I have worked hard up until the end so that we can break this fourth wave as quickly as possible.”

Merkel called the tougher measures an “act of national solidarity,” as hospitals in the country are near capacity.

Both Merkel and Scholz, who is expected to be elected chancellor by a center-left coalition next week, have expressed support for a vaccine mandate. If passed by parliament, it would take effect in February.

About 68.7% of the population in Germany is fully vaccinated, below the minimum goal of 75% set by the government.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse.

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