Germany's Unvaccinated Will Be Barred From Venues

Merkel says hospitals could become overrun with COVID-19 cases
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 2, 2021 4:45 PM CST
With Cases Surging, Germany Heads for Vaccine Mandate
People wear mandatory face masks Wednesday in a shopping area in Dortmund, Germany.   (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)

Unvaccinated people across Germany will soon be excluded from nonessential 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, the AP reports. 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 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. Merkel suggested months ago that a vaccine mandate would not be effective, but she did not rule it out. About 68% of the population is fully vaccinated, far below the government's minimum goal of 75%. Unvaccinated people will still be able to meet in private settings only in limited numbers. A household with an unvaccinated person over 14 can meet with only two people from another household; the limit does not apply when everyone is vaccinated. There have been large protests against pandemic measures, but opinion polls show most Germans favor such a mandate.

(More Germany stories.)

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