Angela Merkel has branded the Covid situation in Germany as “dramatic” and called for tougher measures to contain the pandemic, even if more and more states are blocking their unvaccinated citizens.
The outgoing Chancellor spoke as members of the new coalition met to discuss their plans to deal with the outbreak, which include phasing out a national Covid emergency.
Ms. Merkel warned of the move, saying, “We are in such an emergency” and calling for new laws that would automatically trigger strict lockdown measures in any state that reaches a certain threshold for Covid hospital admissions.
As she spoke, leaders rushed to implement their own lockdown measures, mostly targeting the unvaccinated – making it difficult for them to get to public spaces and services without a sting.
Angela Merkel has called for tougher lockdown measures in Germany and an extension of the state of emergency as Covid cases rise to record levels
Cases are increasing rapidly across the country and have hit record levels in the past few weeks as a relatively low vaccination rate and slow booster drive combine to speed up infections
Thirteen of the country’s 16 federal states have or plan to implement rules that largely restrict people’s activities based on their vaccination status.
So-called 2G rules restrict access to various buildings and rooms to people who have either been stabbed twice or have previously been infected with Covid.
It’s a stricter form of the 3G rule that allows unvaccinated people to enter if they test negative for the virus.
The locations where people without stitches are denied access vary from state to state. In Baden-Württemberg, the passes are required for access to most public buildings, including cinemas, restaurants, theaters and galleries.
In Lower Saxony, the 2G rules only apply to indoor events with more than 1,000 people, but tougher measures are planned.
In Germany, Covid infections have risen to record levels in recent weeks, as a relatively low double shock rate of 67 percent in combination with a sluggish booster drive led to the infection spreading rapidly.
Health chief Jens Spahn was criticized by a tired public who accused him of not preparing for the winter months, in which respiratory diseases such as Covid are known to spread faster.
Newspapers like Bild and Süddeutsche Zeitung have beaten Spahn for removing free Covid tests for most people, while also closing some vaccination centers after the spring wave subsided.
Deaths are nowhere near as high as they were during the first and second waves of Covid, but they have started to rise rapidly amid fears they could soon beat previous highs
Germany is now reopening some jab hubs to ramp up its vaccine offensive, but many won’t be operational until January or February.
The German lockdown measures come from the back of Austria, which this week locked around 2 million unvaccinated people in their homes amid rising cases.
Called “vaccine apartheid” by critics, it has nonetheless resulted in record queues to get stings, according to The Telegraph.
While many of the newspaper said they were dissatisfied with the new rules, they nonetheless seemed to be getting the desired result. Around 462,000 signed up for jabs yesterday, the highest number since summer.
Meanwhile, Slovakia and Greece said they are considering a similar lockdown but have no plans to activate one yet.
Gabriel Attal, the French government spokesman, also noted on Wednesday that his country’s outbreak is also largely being driven by those who were not stung – but said no new measures will be taken for the time being.
The Czech Republic and Slovakia reported record numbers of new coronavirus cases on a daily basis on Wednesday, a day before neighboring country governments plan to approve new restrictions in response to rising infections.
The Czech daily rose to 22,479 new cases, beating the previous record of January 7 by almost 5,000 and almost 8,000 more than a week ago.
Austria has banned its unvaccinated citizens, with people now being forced to carry vaccination cards with them so they can leave their homes
Austria is fighting a brutal fourth wave of Covid, in which the infection rate has risen to one of the highest in Europe (in the picture a patient is treated in hospital).
The country’s infection rate rose to 813 new cases per 100,000 population in the past seven days, up from 558 a week earlier.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said the government was considering several options, including neighboring Austria, to order a lockdown for unvaccinated residents.
Slovakia reported 8,342 new virus cases, beating the previous record of 7,244 set on Friday.
The Slovak government plans new restrictions on unvaccinated people as the country’s hospitals become overloaded with Covid-19 patients.
Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger said his cabinet would vote on recommendations from an advisory group of medical experts on Thursday.
And in Hungary, the number of daily Covid-19 deaths and new officially registered cases rose on Wednesday to highs not seen since a surge in pandemic last spring.
Government figures showed 178 daily deaths and 10,265 new cases in the country with fewer than 10 million people. The latter number was nearing pandemic record highs hit in March, while daily deaths were the highest since May 1.
The numbers reflect a worsening pandemic situation in the central European country that had the highest Covid-19 per capita death rate in the world in the spring.