In response to surging COVID-19 cases and the new omicron variant, Germany implemented a string of new restrictions against the unvaccinated.
Chancellor Angela Merkel described the new restrictions as an "act of national solidarity" intended to break the country's fourth wave.
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"There should be a strict limit for all private meetings or contacts when there is an unvaccinated person," Merkel said. "Wherever not all participants have been vaccinated and recovered, the limit applies: own household and a maximum of two other people."
One of the new restrictions includes the so-called "2G" rule, which means that only vaccinated and previously infected individuals get access to nonessential retail, cultural events, and leisure events.
Children up to 14 would be excluded from this policy, and Merkel also suggested that booster shots may be required in order to be considered fully vaccinated. "Daily necessities" would not require vaccination.
Merkel also announced her support for a general vaccine mandate that may take place as soon as February if the Bundestag passes it. Merkel said this is intended to help the healthcare system, which is "on the brink of overload."
The German government will close indoor clubs in areas with over 350 new infections per 100,000 people. It is also banning fireworks for New Year's Day and New Year's Eve.
Merkel and her successor, Olaf Scholz, said at a press conference that their goal was to vaccinate and boost 30 million German citizens by the end of the year. Germany has a population of roughly 84 million people.
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Germany has an estimated 69% of its population fully vaccinated with at least two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the New York Times COVID-19 world vaccine tracker. The United States, by contrast, has 59% of its total population fully vaccinated.
Germany is currently experiencing its strongest wave of COVID-19 cases during the pandemic so far, though the rate of new cases appears to have leveled off. Germany averaged just under 60,000 cases and 300 deaths Wednesday, according to the New York Times.