New Delhi: The outgoing German chancellor and her successor announced sweeping new restrictions for the unvaccinated and backed mandatory anti-coronavirus shots on Thursday.
Both Angela Merkel and Olaf Scholz, who will soon replace her at the helm of the government, said vaccination was “the way out” of the pandemic as virus cases continued to surge nationwide.
“It is imperative that compulsory vaccination be adopted. If I were in the German Bundestag, I can say, I would vote for it,” Merkel told a press conference after meeting regional governors.
The federal parliament’s ethics council will draw up recommendations in the coming weeks, and compulsory vaccinations could become a reality in early February.
Merkel announced new restrictions for the unvaccinated, saying immunised Germans, who make up almost 69 per cent of the population, suffered from curbs too, while hospitalizations were overwhelming the national health care system.
“The fourth wave must be broken. We haven’t done it yet. We currently have a certain period of calm but the [infection] level is too high. That’s why it was important to agree these measures today,” she said.
The new “minimal standard” restrictions range from limited contacts with other households to a blanket ban on access to non-essential businesses, cultural and recreational venues. They can be ramped up unilaterally by regional authorities.
Merkel added that the European Union planned to set a nine-month expiration date for the vaccination status and require re-immunization or follow-up vaccination with boosters.