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Germany has announced a string of new measures that are to take effect from 28 December “at the latest”, in a bid to get a rampant surge in new infections under control.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz, North Rhine-Westphalia’s prime minister Hendrik Wüst and Berlin’s governing mayor Franziska Giffey gave a press conference about new coronavirus measures.
Scholz said the Omicron variant would soon cause infections to skyrocket. “Covid-19 won’t take a Christmas break,” he said.
The chancellor said the fourth wave of infections was now under control, but warned that the fifth wave was just around the corner.
Private gatherings will be limited to 10 people even for those who have recovered from the virus or who have been vaccinated. Children under the age of 14 are not included in this number. Clubs and discos will remain closed.
The “2G rule” – which stipulates that people must either be vaccinated or recovered from Covid-19 – will apply in cinemas and theatres.
In addition, the sale of fireworks will be prohibited on New Year’s Eve, and there will be a ban on assemblies on 31 December.
Tough restrictions for unvaccinated people will remain in place – with the 3G rule [having to be either vaccinated, recovered or able to produce a negative test] applying at work and on public transport, and tight contact restrictions also applying over Christmas.
All measures decided on Tuesday should not start until after Christmas, Scholz said, adding that the past few years had shown that Easter and Christmas aren’t major drivers of infection.
The government is aiming to administer a further 30m booster vaccinations by the end of January, Scholz said. As an interim goal, the overall vaccination rate in the population is hoped to increase to at least 80%.
The different heads of Germany’s individual states will meet again on 7 January to discuss further steps, which is also when further financial aid for companies will be discussed again.