Top German officials said on Thursday they had agreed on tough new coronavirus restrictions that would leave unvaccinated people out of many aspects of public life, as the country tries to fight a monthlong surge in infections that has been breaking daily case records.
“You can see from the decisions that we have understood that the situation is very serious,” Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters at a news conference after her teleconference meeting with state governors.
Under the new set of rules, those wishing to shop anywhere but in stores carrying basic necessities will have to present proof of full vaccination or documentation of recovery. States may also add the requirement that a negative test result be presented on top of the other documentation. Where they were not doing so already, restaurants, bars, museums and theaters will also bar entry to those who are not vaccinated or recovered.
In addition, for those who cannot provide proof, meetings, whether at home or in a public space, will be limited to two households.
The restrictions stop short of obliging the unvaccinated to stay at home, as restrictions enacted by Austria last month did.
In what is likely to be Ms. Merkel’s last meeting with governors, states agreed to pass the new rules in the coming days. Olaf Scholz, who is expected to be sworn in next week as new chancellor, was active in the talks.
On Thursday, he reiterated his promise to oversee distribution of an additional 30 million doses of vaccine by Christmas, for which a task force headed by a military general was constituted. Mr. Scholz also spoke about passing a mandatory vaccination law that could go into effect in winter, something he had first discussed publicly on Tuesday.
In virus hot spots — districts where more than 350 infections are registered per 100,000 in a week — bars and nightclubs would be forced to close and indoor gatherings would be limited to 50 participants.
Like last year, selling firecrackers will be prohibited at the end of December, in an attempt to discourage crowded New Year parties.
German health authorities registered 73,209 new reported cases on Wednesday and 388 new deaths.