Germany locks unvaccinated out of public life; mandate looms
Unvaccinated people across Germany will soon be excluded from non-essential stores, restaurants and sports and cultural venues, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced Thursday, and parliament will consider a general vaccine mandate as part of efforts to curb coronavirus infections.
Merkel announced the measures after a meeting with federal and state leaders, as the nation again topped 70,000 newly confirmed cases in a 24-hour period. She said the steps were necessary to address concerns that hospitals could become overloaded with patients suffering from COVID-19 infections, which are much more likely to be serious in people who have not been vaccinated.
“The situation in our country is serious,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin, calling the measures an “act of national solidarity”.
She said officials also agreed on a nationwide requirement to wear masks, new limits on private meetings and a goal of 30 million vaccinations by the end of the year – an effort that will be boosted by allowing dentists and pharmacists to administer the shots.
Merkel said authorities plan to require staff in hospitals and nursing homes to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and she backed the even more contentious idea of imposing a general vaccine mandate. She said parliament would debate the proposal with input from the country’s national ethics committee. The mandate could take effect as early as February.
“In light of this situation, I really think it’s necessary to pass such a mandate,” Merkel said, adding that she would have voted for it if she were still a lawmaker.