Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Germany blocks unvaccinated people as leaders plan to make vaccinations mandatory

Nadine Schmidt and Frederick Pleitgen | CNN

Germany on Thursday announced a nationwide lockdown for the unvaccinated as its leaders backed plans for mandatory vaccinations in the coming months.

Unvaccinated people will be denied access to all but the most important businesses, such as supermarkets and pharmacies, to curb the spread of the coronavirus, outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel and her successor Olaf Scholz announced on Thursday after crisis talks with regional leaders.

The couple also supported proposals for compulsory vaccinations, which, if voted through parliament, could enter into force no earlier than February.

With tightening restrictions, unvaccinated people can only date two people from a different household. Bars and nightclubs should be closed in areas where the incidence rate exceeds 350 cases per 100,000 people in one week. And the country would limit the number of people at major events like soccer games.

The announcement comes at a time when Germany is grappling with a spike in cases that have pushed Europe back into the epicenter of the pandemic, fueling fears over the recently discovered Omicron variant.

The press briefing is also the last for Merkel before she leaves office on Thursday; a grim note at the end of her 16-year tenure as German chancellor.

“We realized that the situation is very serious and we want to take additional measures in addition to those already taken,” Merkel told reporters at a press conference on Thursday. “The fourth wave must be broken, and this has not yet been achieved,” she added.

According to Merkel, a nationwide vaccination mandate could take effect from February 2022 – after it is discussed in parliament and follows the guidelines of the German Ethics Council.

She added that vaccinated people will lose their vaccination status nine months after the last vaccination, apparently in order to encourage the use of boosters.

Europe is considering mandates

If approved, Germany’s vaccination mandate will follow in the footsteps of neighboring Austria, which also plans to vaccinate eligible adults from February.

Elsewhere, Greece announced that vaccines will become mandatory for people over 60 from mid-January. Those who refuse to do so will face a fine of € 100 ($ 113) each month, the government said Tuesday.

European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said it’s time to “potentially think about mandatory vaccinations” inside the bloc as it faces a double onslaught of a fourth wave of coronavirus and concerns over the Omicron variant discovered by South African health officials last week.

“Two or three years ago, I would never have thought to witness what we are seeing right now – that we have this terrible pandemic, we have vaccines, life-saving vaccines, but they are not used properly everywhere,” – von der Leyen said at a briefing on Wednesday.

“How we can encourage and potentially think about compulsory vaccination in the European Union requires discussion. It needs a common approach, but I think this is a discussion that needs to be conducted, ”she added.

Germany, like Austria, has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Western Europe: 68.4% and 65.6% of eligible adults are vaccinated, respectively, according to the ECDC.

Surgical cases

Germany continues to see a record number of cases, especially in its eastern states. The country recorded 446 Covid-19-related deaths on Wednesday, the highest number of deaths per day in nine months.

Many hospitals are struggling to cope with the growing number of intensive care patients. By Christmas, there could be about 6,000 Covid-19 patients in an intensive care unit – regardless of any measures taken by Germany’s leaders, the Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (Divi) warned on Wednesday.

More than 102,000 people in Germany have already died as a result of the coronavirus, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the national center for disease control and control.

The-CNN-Wire ™ and © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia company. All rights reserved.

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