| 5 December 2021, Sunday |

Germany considers tighter COVID-19 curbs as cases soar

A regional leader suggested on Tuesday that Germany should need confirmation of vaccination or recent recovery from COVID-19 for all indoor leisure activities, and that vaccinated people should also produce a negative test for dangerous environments.

North Rhine-Westphalia Premier Hendrik Wuest made the remarks ahead of a meeting of Germany’s 16 federal states on Thursday to discuss how to respond to a new increase in COVID-19 cases.

Germany confirmed 32,048 new infections on Tuesday, a 47 percent increase from the previous week, and another 265 deaths, bringing Germany’s total for the epidemic to 97,980.

Wuest, who chairs the body that groups Germany’s regional premiers, said he would press on Thursday for the whole country to allow only vaccinated people or those who have recovered from COVID-19 to access leisure-sector facilities, in some cases paired with a negative test.

Several German regions, including the capital Berlin, have already introduced such a rule, in effect excluding non-vaccinated people from places such as cinemas, hairdressers, restaurants and fitness studios.

Berlin is also considering requiring negative tests and proof of vaccination from next week.

It is not clear who should be responsible for policing the new rules. Berlin mayor Michael Mueller called on city officials to check vaccine passports rather than issue parking tickets.

“It isn’t a matter of illegal parking but human lives,” he was quoted as saying in the Berliner Zeitung daily.

The new wave of infections is challenging a government in transition, with three parties negotiating to form the next cabinet after September’s federal election. [nL8N2S74LS

Neighboring Austria imposed a lockdown on people unvaccinated against the new coronavirus on Monday.

Germany’s vaccination rate, at 68%, is among the lowest in western Europe.