Bavaria will introduce drastic measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus, including canceling all Christmas markets and limiting the mix of households, announced its head, Markus Söder.
Germany’s largest state in terms of land mass, with over 13 million inhabitants, has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Germany and one of the highest hospitalization rates. “The situation is overwhelming and keeps getting worse,” Söder said.
The cancellation of the Christmas markets, which were to open next week, will be a blow to the public and to traders for the second year in a row. The markets are a highlight of the German calendar and are of enormous economic and social importance, attracting significant numbers of visitors from home and abroad.
In other measures, the number of people who can meet privately will be reduced to a maximum of five people from two households, and nightlife venues will close. The rules are expected to go into effect next Wednesday and last until December 15.
Stores will be limited to one customer per 10 square meters of store space while hairdressers, driving schools, music schools, sporting and cultural events will be limited to those who can prove they are vaccinated or cured. of Covid-19 as well as produce a negative test result. Restaurants, operating on the same basis, will have to close at 10 p.m.
Söder said: “Above all, the unvaccinated will be affected. It is a real risk not to be vaccinated. He said the measures would be “massively controlled”.
Bavaria’s move came as neighboring Austria announced it would enter a nationwide lockdown from Monday and introduce a nationwide vaccine mandate in 2022.
Echoing the words of Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg, Söder said: “I think we will not be able to escape a vaccination mandate for everyone. Otherwise we will be caught in a continuous loop.
Earlier, Jens Spahn, the acting health minister, said he could not rule out a general lockdown across Germany, but added that he was skeptical of a general vaccine mandate, “because that I fear it will tear this country apart ”.
Bavaria’s move follows a warning earlier today from Lothar Wieler, the head of Germany’s disease control agency, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), who said the country was “in a state of health. national emergency ”.
The RKI reported more than 52,000 new cases of Covid on Friday, after 10 days in which the level of the virus has continuously reached record levels not seen during the pandemic so far with daily deaths ranging between 200 and 300 days. The national proportion of people who were completely bitten was just under 68% on Friday, well below the 90% that experts believe are needed to tackle the more virulent Delta variant.
A campaign to encourage booster injections has been virtually non-existent with only 4 million doses administered so far.
Meanwhile, 14% of intensive care beds are occupied by coronavirus patients, and a growing number of hospitals are having to move patients elsewhere.
Wieler recommended canceling large-scale gatherings, closing what he called “hot spots” such as “poorly ventilated clubs and bars” and reducing social contact.
“We have to put the emergency brakes on right now,” he said, likening the virus to “an oil tanker heading for a port wall, which if we all made an effort, might only crash into the wall from the side, not hit it completely on ”.
Christian Drosten, chief virologist at Charité Hospital in Berlin and coronavirus expert, said the virus had not yet reached the ‘endemic phase’ in Germany as was soon expected in the UK.
In an interview with Die Zeit, he said: “You can see in the UK, which has roughly the same level of vaccine as us, and sadly twice as many deaths per capita, that it is now in one. ‘Post-infestation’, which has been going on since the end of the summer. Natural infections create community protection there. We are not there yet in Germany, because there are too few people who have recovered [from the virus] and the elderly are not sufficiently immunized. If we let the virus spread uncontrollably, it would cause 100,000 more deaths if we didn’t fill the vaccine gap first. “