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Chancellor-designate of Germany defends restrictions imposed on the unvaccinated

Chancellor-designate of Germany defends 
restrictions imposed on the unvaccinated

Olaf Scholz, who is expected to become Germany’s new chancellor next week, on Saturday defended moves to shut unvaccinated people out of large parts of public life.
Scholz admitted that the return of restrictions was difficult. “But precisely because not enough have been vaccinated, we have to do it again,” he said in Berlin at a conference of his Social Democratic Party (SPD), where delegates gave their blessing to Scholz’s new centre-left coalition with the Greens and the pro-business FDP.
At the SPD conference, more than 98 per cent of delegates voted in favour of the coalition agreement with the Greens and the FDP, in a result met with long applause. “We now have the chance: a new dawn can take place for Germany,” Scholz stressed, announcing a government “that tackles progress at a moment when it would be dangerous not to do so”.
Talsking about the pandemic, Scholz stressed that restaurants, cultural venues and retail could remain open under so-called 2G rules, which restrict entry to only those who are vaccinated or recently recovered from Covid-19.
He compared the current situation to last winter, when sweeping closures took their toll on all Germans.
“Now we can focus on regulations aimed at those who have not taken the opportunity to protect themselves,” he said, adding that such an approach was justifiable since authorities have acted to boost the number of coronavirus vaccines on offer.
Scholz, who is set to take over from conservative politician Angela Merkel, promised a “completely new campaign” so that millions of people could be vaccinated “in this month of December.” Federal and state leaders in Germany have set a target of administering up to 30 million first, second and booster vaccinations by the end of the year.
Addressing the public in her last weekly podcast as chancellor on Saturday, Merkel also renewed her appeal for more vaccinations, while urging people to “take this treacherous virus seriously.” “We are in the middle of this fourth wave of the pandemic in a very serious situation, in some parts of our country it can only be called dramatic,” Merkel said in the recorded message.
She referred to “overcrowded intensive care units,” seriously ill patients who had to be flown across Germany, and the “terribly high number” of people who have died after catching the coronavirus.
“Every one of them leaves behind families or friends, stunned, helpless,” she said. “This is especially bitter because it could be avoided - with effective and safe vaccines, we hold the key.” The coming difficult weeks can only be overcome with a joint effort, Merkel said. “I sincerely wish that we will succeed together.” According to data from the Health Ministry on Saturday, at least 57.3 million people, or 68.9 per cent of the German population, now have full basic protection against the coronavirus. Some 59.8 million people, or 71.9 per cent of the population, have had at least one shot. At least 13 million vaccinated people have received an additional booster dose.
A total of 896,000 vaccinations were given on Friday, according to the ministry’s data.
Outgoing Health Minister Jens Spahn explained that a total of almost 3 million vaccinations have been administered in the past three days.
In the meantime, more than a third of the vaccinated over-60s had also received booster protection.
The vaccination campaign and coronavirus restrictions have been met with staunch opposition by some in German society, leading to major protests in several cities over the course of the pandemic.