The restrictions on unvaccinated people in Germany are “no longer enough” to break the new wave of Covid-19 infections, the health watchdog Robert Koch Institute warned Friday.
New infections again exceeded 50,000 in 24 hours on Friday, according to Belga News Agency, and the health institute’s president Lothar Wieler said that the current restrictions aren’t sufficient.
He called for a ban on large events, the closure of potential infection hot spots such as poorly ventilated bars and restaurants, and the reduction of private contacts.
“We need to pull the emergency brake now,” he said, urging people to “stay home if possible.”
At a crisis meeting the day before, outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel and the heads of the regions decided to ban unvaccinated people from public places as soon as the threshold of hospitalisation exceeds three Covid patients per 100,000 inhabitants, which is the case in 12 of the country’s 16 regional states.
The rule is already being applied in the most affected regions, such as Saxony.
“We are in a national emergency,” Health Minister Jens Spahn said.
Asked about the possibility of a generalised lockdown in Germany, as Austria has just decided, Spahn said that the question did not arise “but we should not exclude anything.”
Germany also decided on a massive return to teleworking wherever possible and a compulsory health pass for transport and the workplace.
To protect the most vulnerable, Merkel and other leaders have also paved the way for mandatory vaccination for staff in elderly care facilities and hospitals.
In Germany, only 67.9% of the population is fully vaccinated, according to the latest RKI figures.