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EXPLAINED: German leaders plan new restrictions to fight Omicron wave

Frankfurt's shopping street packed with people just before Christmas.
Frankfurt's shopping street packed with people just before Christmas. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Hannes P. Albert
A draft plan ahead of Tuesday’s meeting between federal and state governments reveals tighter Covid restrictions are on the cards after Christmas.

In light of the spread of the Omicron variant, the federal and state governments are set to discuss the Covid situation, and fresh measures to stave off a new wave of infections on Tuesday.

A first draft of a proposed resolution emerged on Monday, and it gives a glimpse of what Chancellor Olaf Scholz will discuss with state leaders.

It comes after the German government’s Covid Expert Council called for action “in the coming days”.

They said there was a need for “well-planned and well-communicated contact restrictions”.

READ ALSO: German government advisory panel urges fresh Covid measures to fight Omicron

Here’s what the draft proposals from the government and state leaders say. Keep in mind that they are subject to change before the final agreement is reached on Tuesday.

– The draft includes a plan for restricting social gatherings from December 28th for vaccinated and recovered people.  According to the plans, a maximum of 10 people would be allowed to meet privately – indoors and outdoors, not counting children aged 14 and younger from this date. “In particular, New Year’s Eve celebrations with a large number of people are not justifiable in the current situation,” the document says.

– As soon as an unvaccinated person attends a gathering, the contact restrictions for the unvaccinated would apply: meaning that meetings would be limited to your own household and a maximum of two other people from another household. However, this proposed regulation is still to be discussed in more detail.

READ ALSO: Is Germany heading for post-Christmas lockdown measures?

– The draft also includes a renewed appeal to the unvaccinated to get their jabs and for everyone who is eligible to get their booster shot, along with a call to continue the vaccination campaign over the holidays – with all health care providers such as doctors and pharmacies encouraged to participate. The proposals also call on people to quickly take advantage of offers for jabs for 5- to 11-year-olds.

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– Operators of critical infrastructure (such as the health service, police and fire service) are asked to review their pandemic plans and ensure that they can be activated at short notice. There are fears that services will buckle if lots of people are off work at the same time when the Omicron wave hits.

– Indoor clubs and discos are to be closed from December 28th at the latest under the proposals.

– The plans also include an appeal to limit the number of contacts at family gatherings over Christmas, and for people to get tested before taking part in these kinds of gatherings with people outside their household.

– In their proposals, the federal and state governments also remind people of the ban on large gatherings on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, as well as the ban on fireworks on those days. The sale of fireworks before New Year’s Eve is banned, while setting off fireworks is discouraged. “The setting off of New Year’s Eve fireworks is generally strongly discouraged, in view of the high risk of injury and the already enormous burden on the health system,” the first draft states.

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– The government and state leaders will also discuss how to deal with major events, such as in sports or culture. It is expected that major events are to take place without spectators from December 28th at the latest.

– The nationwide 2G rule (only vaccinated or recovered people) or 2G-plus rule (vaccinated and recovered people have to take a test) will continue to apply to cultural and leisure facilities such as theatres, cinemas and restaurants, as well as in non-essential shops, under the proposals. 


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