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Tuesday, 16 November 2021

Covid-19 rates rise sharply to highest in Germany

On Monday, Germany set a new record for the number of cases reported in the previous week, as cold weather forces more people indoors and vaccine attempts falter, repositioning Europe as the pandemic's epicenter.

This fourth wave of infection is posing a challenge to a government in transition, with three parties trying to form the next cabinet following the inconclusive election in September.

The centre-left Social Democrats, Greens, and pro-business FDP stated on Monday that they will toughen up their proposed bill to cope with the outbreak, which is now being debated in the Bundestag (lower house of parliament).  Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.

According to a policy statement released by the three parties, the so-called 3G standards, which require a negative COVID-19 test, proof of recovery, or vaccination, should apply to public transportation as well as workplaces.

"We have accepted... new regulations to rapidly and forcibly break the fourth wave," said senior Greens legislator Kathrin Goering-Eckardt on Twitter.

Later, she told reporters that there was no consensus on mandatory vaccination in certain areas, such as care homes, exposing a split in the would-be government between her party and the SPD on the one side, and the more libertarian-leaning FDP on the other.

The proposal for extra restrictions came as Austria's government enforced a lockdown on persons who have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus on Monday.

The Bundestag is expected to vote on the draft bill on Thursday, allowing it to take effect before the end of Germany's state of emergency, which had provided the legal foundation for earlier pandemic measures, on November 25.

In addition to national standards, the new law aims to provide Germany's 16 states with a toolbox of alternatives that they can use on their own, given the significant disparity in infection rates across the country. In areas with the lowest vaccination rates, such as eastern and southern Germany, higher rates can be found.

However, the new draft rule removes measures such as school lockdowns and curfews that were implemented during earlier waves of the pandemic, causing some officials to complain that it reduces risk perception and flexibility. 

Germany's vaccination rate, at 67 percent, is among the lowest in Western Europe, posing a threat to the country's thus far impressive record in combating the pandemic.

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