Germany imposes de facto confinement on the unvaccinated: leisure and commerce will be banned | Society

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Acting Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives at the press conference to announce the new restrictions and sits next to her successor, Olaf Scholz, this Thursday in Berlin.
Acting Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives at the press conference to announce the new restrictions and sits next to her successor, Olaf Scholz, this Thursday in Berlin.JOHN MACDOUGALL (AFP)

Germany is going to make it very difficult for the unvaccinated, so much so that they will practically not be able to enter any public place except to buy food and medicine. Acting Chancellor Angela Merkel, her successor, Olaf Scholz, and the leaders of the 16 federal states have agreed on Thursday to extend the restrictions to the more than 14 million adults who have not yet been immunized. Among other things, they will be prohibited from meeting with people from outside their family nucleus. Politicians have also confirmed that vaccination will be compulsory, expected in February, after the legislative amendment is approved in the Bundestag, the lower house of the German Parliament.

The Government and countries They were scheduled to meet on December 9, but decided to advance the appointment given the evolution of the fourth wave of the country’s pandemic, which has hospitals in the most affected areas already very overloaded or directly saturated. “There is not a day to lose,” Merkel said. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI is its acronym in German) continues to record very high numbers of infections. This Thursday it has reported 73,209 positives in one day, the third highest figure of the pandemic. The intensive care medical associations warned yesterday that by Christmas the number of patients in ICUs may exceed 6,000, above the peak recorded last winter.

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The main restriction is to extend what is known as the 2G -de vaccinated (vaccinated) and recovered (recovered) -, that is, to prevent the unvaccinated from entering restaurants and cafes, theaters, cinemas, and any other closed place of leisure or culture. This was already applied in much of Germany because many Länder have been imposing it by making use of their powers. The novelty agreed today is that non-essential retail will also be subject to the 2G rule. Except for establishments where food is sold and pharmacies, the unvaccinated will not be able to enter any other store. Until now they could avoid it by presenting a recent negative antigen test.

“The situation is very serious and we have agreed measures that go beyond those currently in force,” Merkel said during the press conference. The common restrictions decided on Thursday with the States are “minimum standards,” added the Chancellor. The countries they can be even more stringent and toughen them, he added. Scholz sat next to him, invited to participate to facilitate the transition to the new tripartite government between Social Democrats, Greens and Liberals. The Bundestag announced this Thursday that the vote to elect him a new chancellor will take place on December 8.

Another measure provides for the closure of nightlife establishments based on a contagion threshold. In the territories where a weekly incidence of 350 cases per 100,000 inhabitants is reached, discos and pubs will have to pull the blind. The average incidence in the country is 439, but with great differences between the northern states, with a better situation, and those in the south and east. This indicator has fallen for the third day in a row, which could indicate that the curve is beginning to flatten out.

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Merkel, in favor of compulsory vaccination

Both Merkel and Scholz appealed to those who have not yet been vaccinated to do so. The new Government has set itself the goal of putting 30 million doses before Christmas, including first, second and booster doses. “It is a great logistical challenge,” said the next chancellor. Mandatory vaccination, which until a few weeks ago was not considered in Germany, has come to the fore today in the face of the expansion of infections in the fourth wave. Several political leaders, including Scholz, have changed their minds. The next chancellor assured this Thursday that if the vaccination rate were higher “there would be no discussion about the obligation.” But there is a lot of room for improvement. Germany only has 68.7% of its population immunized, one of the lowest percentages in Western Europe. In Spain vaccination reaches almost 80% of citizens.

Merkel also ruled on the mandatory nature of the puncture in what is probably her last meeting with the Länder as Chancellor after 16 years at the helm of the country. He said that the authorities have offered all the facilities to get vaccinated and that, despite this, there are millions of Germans who have not yet done so. He added that such low acceptance of voluntary immunization was not expected. Given this situation “it is necessary to make it mandatory,” he said. If she still sat in the Bundestag, she would vote in favor, he noted. A few days ago it was Scholz who announced that he agreed with the proposal. The leader of the Liberals, Christian Lindner, who until a few days ago was against restricting individual freedom, has also turned his speech around in view of the severity of the fourth wave.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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