Merkel announced the measures after a meeting with federal and state leaders, as the nation again topped 70,000 newly confirmed cases in 24 hours. 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.”
Merkel said authorities plan to require staff in hospitals and nursing homes to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and she backed the even more controversial 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.
According to Reuters, the decision to implement medical segregation came after “[O]outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel and her successor Olaf Scholz agreed with leaders of Germany’s 16 states to bar the unvaccinated from access to all but Additional restrictions set to take effect include “shutting nightclubs in places with high infection rates,” “strict limits on the number of spectators at large public events such as soccer games,” and “a nationwide ban on gatherings and fireworks at New Year.”
German officials also agreed on passing legislation that would force individuals to get the COVID jab, with the lower house of parliament expected to vote on the measure soon.
“We’re in a very, very difficult situation,” stressed Scholz. “We have very many citizens who are vaccinated but not enough to prevent another wave of infections. Those who have not been vaccinated must do so, and that’s my very urgent personal appeal.” Merkel asserted that he would vote for the measure if she were in parliament, marking a departure from her previous stance that getting jabbed was a personal choice.
The push for greater government-based restrictions in Germany comes on the heels of the latest wave of COVID cases and COVID-related deaths in the European nation. Despite 79.3 percent of the entire adult population (18 and older) being fully vaccinated, the country has reportedly experienced a 32 percent increase in cases and a 54 percent rise in deaths over the past two weeks.
Other legislation expected to be taken up by the nation’s parliament would provide regional governments additional overreaching powers, including “measures like alcohol bans and limiting gatherings or hotel occupancy.” Only vaccinated or recovered from the virus will be allowed access to restaurants, theaters, and other so-called nonessential stores.