Germany announces new Covid restrictions for the unvaccinated as infection rate hits record

  • The package reportedly includes a limit on public life for the unvaccinated in areas that exceed a certain threshold of hospital admissions.
  • Merkel said the country was also considering making it mandatory for hospital staff to be vaccinated, and free Covid testing will resume.

Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the country's 16 state premiers on Thursday agreed on a new package of measures to tackle a fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic, as infection rates soar to a record.

"Many of the measures we are announcing would not be necessary if more people were vaccinated," Merkel told a news conference, according to a Reuters translation.

The package reportedly includes a limit on public life for the unvaccinated in areas that exceed a certain threshold of hospital admissions. Merkel said the country was also considering making it mandatory for hospital staff to be vaccinated, and free Covid testing will also resume.

Several states and cities have already imposed more measures and have required the public to show Covid passes, which have an individual's vaccination status or if they've just recovered from the virus (also widely known as "2G rules" as they refer to whether people are vaccinated — "geimpft" in German — or recovered, "genesen") in order to access bars, restaurants and other public venues like movie theaters or museums.

According to Germany's Deutsche Welle news outlet, if more than 3 per 100,000 inhabitants in a region are hospitalized with the disease, then the 2G rule will apply for all public leisure events in a given state. All states except Hamburg, Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein and Saarland are above that metric, according to Deutsche Welle.

Germany shattered a record on Thursday, reporting more than 65,000 new cases, with health officials warning that the true number of cases could be two or three times as many.

Merkel has described the situation as "dramatic."

"The fourth wave is hitting our country with full force," Merkel told an event for the Association of German Cities on Wednesday, according to a translation.

"The number of daily new infections is higher than ever before … and the daily death toll is also frightening," she said, adding that it was not too late to take up a Covid vaccine for anyone who had not already done so.

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— CNBC's Holly Ellyatt contributed to this article.

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