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Merkel ushers in restrictions, says fourth virus wave ‘must be broken’

Merkel ushers in restrictions, says  fourth virus wave ‘must be broken’

New measures putting restrictions on the unvaccinated and limiting gatherings are aimed at breaking the fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic in Germany and easing the pressure on intensive care units, said Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday.
“The fourth wave must be broken,” Merkel said after consultations between the federal and state governments. She said the infection situation was stabilizing, but at far too high a level.
When the virus broke out nearly two years ago, Germany was considered a model for other nations, keeping case counts relatively low thanks to a system of contact tracing and quarantine. But numbers have hit national records in recent weeks, prompting officials to say that tougher measures are needed.
With regard to the current situation, Merkel said that with the workload in hospitals reaching its limits and patients being transferred to other parts of the country, an “act of national solidarity” was needed.
While Thursday’s actions do not equal a vaccine requirement, Merkel also said that would vote for the requirement if she were still a member of the Bundestag when such a measure came up for a vote.
Merkel’s likely successor, Olaf Scholz, also called for people to get vaccinated. He had already announced that a general vaccination requirement would be voted on in the Bundestag, and the vote would not be conducted along party lines.
Among the other measures decided at the summit were plans to allow pharmacists and dentists to vaccinate against the coronavirus in future, taking some strain off existing providers.
The number of participants for sports, cultural and comparable major events in Germany will be significantly restricted to a maximum of 30-50 per cent of the seating capacity. A maximum of 15,000 spectators will be allowed in Bundesliga football stadiums on the coming match days.
In sports halls, a maximum of 5,000 spectators will be allowed. In regions with very high infection rates, large events could even to be cancelled or, for sporting events, played behind closed doors.