BERLIN, GERMANY – SEPTEMBER 22: German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) speaks with Vice Chancellor and Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz.
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Germany’s Covid-19 crisis continues to rock the nation with dire news on Thursday that the total number of deaths has now surpassed 100,000.
However, the country’s new coalition government is initially resisting a lockdown.
Germany reported massive new Covid cases on Thursday. with over 75,000 new infections in the last 24 hours (and up from 66,884 on Wednesday), while the death toll has now reached 100,119 after 351 more people died from the virus the previous day.
Government officials have been watching the rising cases with alarm for weeks, and the country’s outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel is said to have pushed for a two-week lockdown at a meeting on Tuesday with the country’s new coalition government.
According to the Bild newspaper, the new government alliance of the left-wing Social Democrats and Greens as well as the business-friendly Free Democrats resisted the idea and preferred to wait to see whether the stricter Covid restrictions announced last week would help reduce infections.
While Merkel had proposed a lockdown starting Thursday that would have closed shops, bars and restaurants, the idea was rejected by the new government, which said it had been interpreted as a “bad political ploy” by the public, both old and new government, Picture reported Wednesday.
CNBC contacted the federal government for further comments on the picture report and learned that “the German government does not comment on the media coverage.
“However, the government referred to statements made by Merkel’s chief spokesman Steffen Seibert on Wednesday, in which he neither denied nor confirmed whether Merkel had pushed for a lockdown, and stated that the conversation between Merkel and the coalition leaders was confidential, but he said she” had discussed the gravity of the situation.
“At this meeting yesterday, the Chancellor made it clear to the heads of the traffic light coalition that, from her point of view, the situation is extremely serious. The drama is obvious in this country: the hospitals are filling rapidly. Free intensive care beds and available intensive care staff are becoming increasingly scarce, “said Seibert.
“Now we have to do what is necessary to slow down and break this fourth wave as quickly as possible. As I said, the Chancellor has made it clear to the heads of the future coalition that the situation is serious.”
(from left to right) Christian Lindner from the FDP, Olaf Scholz from the SPD and Annalene Baerbock and Robert Habeck from the Greens pose after they presented their amicable coalition agreement to the media on November 24, 2021 in Berlin, Germany.
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After the deal and the coalition’s political ambitions were announced on Wednesday, Scholz signaled that the Covid crisis was an immediate priority for the government. He started a press conference announcing the coalition agreement by saying the virus situation in Germany is serious and the country will expand its vaccination campaign, including mandating vaccines for some people.
“Vaccination is the way out of this pandemic. In facilities in which endangered groups of people are cared for, we should make vaccination compulsory,” said Scholz, without giving any details.
Meanwhile, the new finance minister Christian Lindner declared that the Germans should avoid any unnecessary contact this winter “in order to preserve our whole health in this pandemic”.
Germany already tightened the Covid rules during the last fourth wave of cases in the country.
Many federal states in Germany have already restricted access to public spaces such as bars, restaurants, cinemas and museums according to “2G rules” and restricted access only to those who have been vaccinated – “vaccinated” in German – or recovered, “recovered” . Some large German Christmas markets that were not canceled this year have also adopted 2G rules.
On Wednesday, new measures came into effect imposing “3G” rules on public transport and anyone entering a workplace, which means that more public spaces are open to vaccinated, recent genesis or people with a negative test (“tested”) .
If Germany decides to be vaccinated in some settings, it will not be the first. The UK, France and Italy are among the countries that have introduced (or are introducing) compulsory vaccination for some sectors such as healthcare or homeworkers.
Still, compulsory vaccinations are a sensitive issue and have many ethical issues, and Germany, like other countries, could face a backlash against the switch.
Continue reading: Are Covid Vaccine Regulations Ethical? That’s what doctors say
Germany has tried to encourage the voluntary uptake of Covid vaccination in its population, but at 68.1% of the population it has one of the lower Covid vaccination rates in Western Europe.
Vaccine hesitation, the upcoming winter season, and the spread of the highly infectious Delta-Covid variant, which is far more virulent than previous strains, are making it difficult to contain the virus this time around for Germany, a country widely praised for its initial handling of the pandemic .