Germany announces new Covid restrictions for the unvaccinated

Germany’s resigning Chancellor Angela Merkel and the country’s 16 state premieres agreed on Thursday on a new package of measures to address a fourth wave of coronavirus pandemic, as the infection rate rises to a record.

“Many of the measures we are announcing would not be necessary if more people were vaccinated,” Merkel told a news conference, according to a Reuters translation.

The package reportedly includes a restriction on public life for the unvaccinated in areas that exceed a certain threshold for hospitalization. Merkel said the country was also considering making it compulsory for hospital staff to be vaccinated, and free Covid testing will also be resumed.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel makes a gesture when she sits down for a weekly government meeting in the Chancellery in Berlin.

JOHN MACDOUGALL | AFP | Getty pictures

Several states and cities have already introduced more measures and have required the public to show Covid cards, which have an individual’s vaccination status or if they have just recovered from the virus (also commonly known as “2G rules” because they refer to whether humans are vaccinated – “geimpft” in German – or recycled, “genesen”) to access bars, restaurants and other public places such as cinemas or museums.

According to the German news agency Deutsche Welle, if more than 3 out of 100,000 inhabitants in a region are hospitalized with the disease, the 2G rule will apply to all public leisure events in a given state. All states except Hamburg, Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein and the Saarland are above that measure, according to Deutsche Welle.

Germany broke records on Thursday, reports more than 65,000 new cases, with health officials warning that the actual number of cases could be two or three times as many.

Merkel has described the situation as “dramatic”.

“The fourth wave is hitting our country with full force,” Merkel said at an event for the Association of German Cities on Wednesday, according to a translation.

“The number of new daily infections is higher than ever before … and the daily death toll is also alarming,” she said, adding that it was not too late to take a Covid vaccine for anyone who had not already done so.

– CNBC’s Holly Ellyatt contributed to this article.