BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany will limit large parts of public life in areas where hospitals are becoming dangerously full of COVID-19 patients to those who have either been vaccinated or have recovered from the illness, a document showed.
National and regional leaders meeting on Thursday agreed the measure as part of their response to the fourth wave of the pandemic that is raging in Germany, overburdening hospitals in some areas.
In places where hospitalisation rates exceed a certain threshold, access to public, cultural and sports events and to restaurants will be restricted to those who have been vaccinated or who have recovered, according to the document seen by Reuters.
Saxony, the region hardest hit by the fourth wave, is already considering a partial lockdown, including closing theatres, concerts and soccer games, Bild newspaper reported. The eastern state has Germany’s lowest vaccination rate and highest infection rate.
New daily infections have risen 14-fold in the past month in Saxony, a stronghold of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which harbours many vaccine sceptics and anti-lockdown protesters.
“This coalition is ready to now impose a hard and clear wave breaker,” Saxony leader Michael Kretschmer told the national parliament, according to Bild.
The announcement comes in the same week Austria imposed a lockdown for the unvaccinated. Kretschmer said he did not believe targeting only the unvaccinated was enough.
Europe’s latest coronavirus wave comes at an awkward time in Germany with conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel acting as a caretaker while three other parties negotiate to form a new government after an inconclusive election.
Those three parties shepherded a law authorizing measures to tackle the pandemic through the Bundestag (lower house of parliament) earlier on Thursday.
The law will tighten some measures currently in place, forcing people to show proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test on public transport and at work, in addition to wearing face masks.
Separately, Germany’s vaccine advisory committee recommended booster shots for everyone aged over 18.
Vaccinations have picked up in Germany, which has a history of vaccine resistance, although largely due to uptake of booster shots as more indoor gatherings due to colder weather raise the risk of spreading the virus.
Content Source: https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/963243?src=rss