Germany tightens Covid curbs on the unvaccinated

People without proof of immunity will be denied entry to restaurants and leisure venues

Germany will put unvaccinated residents under a near-lockdown as it battles its highest infection rates of the coronavirus pandemic.

People without proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid-19 will be denied access to restaurants, leisure venues and most shops under rules agreed by state leaders on Thursday.

Private gatherings involving unvaccinated people will be limited to one household plus two other people.

In measures affecting all Germans, large events will be limited to 5,000 people indoors or 15,000 outdoors, while children will be required to wear masks in schools.

German MPs will vote separately on making vaccines compulsory, a move supported by Chancellor Angela Merkel and her designated successor Olaf Scholz.

Mr Scholz, who is expected to take office next week, said he hopes to see 30 million more people vaccinated, including with booster shots, by the end of the year. State premiers hope to achieve this by increasing the number of medical workers who can distribute vaccines.

“If we had a higher vaccination rate, we wouldn’t be discussing this now,” he said of the potential vaccine mandate.

About 69 per cent of Germany's population is fully vaccinated, but more than 14 million adults in the EU's most populous country are not.

Mr Scholz named an army general as head of a new coronavirus task force in the chancellery, which will advise ministers on the resurgent outbreak.

Germany added 73,209 new cases and 388 deaths to its tally on Thursday. The surge in cases began before the emergence of the Omicron variant, of which some cases have been found in Germany.

“The situation in our country is serious,” Ms Merkel said after the talks with state leaders. She called the increased restrictions an “act of national solidarity".

"The number of infections has stabilised, but at far too high a level," she said. "The fourth wave must be broken and this has not yet been achieved."

Ms Merkel said an ethics committee will be asked to draft legislation to make vaccination mandatory, which could take effect by February.

She said she would vote for the vaccine mandate if she were still a member of parliament.

Updated: December 2nd 2021, 8:50 PM