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There will be no big parties for this New Year as well

Germany has instituted a general lockdown over the holiday season

Germany has instituted a general lockdown over the holiday season

The new measures are aimed at stopping the spread of Omicron

After yesterdays’ meeting of the Conference of Minister-Presidents, Germany has decided on instituting further pandemic restrictions for the holiday season. The big takeaway – everyone, regardless of their Covid-immunity status will have to limit social interactions starting from 28 December.

The government has also mandated a vaccinated or recovered status for employees in clinics, nursing homes and the like, which will come into effect on 15 March 2022.

The new measures will be in place at least until 7 January, when the Conference of Minister-Presidents will reconvene to access the situation and determine their success in limiting the spread of the Omicron variant.

Pandemic: winter lockdown edition

Back at the start of December, Germany introduced social distancing measures that limited social gatherings for the unvaccinated. Now, they are expanding this measure to cover everyone. Starting 28 December, private gatherings cannot exceed 10 people.

If there are unvaccinated people at the gathering, then the attendees must be limited to the unvaccinated attendees' household and a maximum of two people from another household. Children under the age of 14 do not count.

Leisure and cultural events can only be attended by the vaccinated or recovered persons, while some can offer attendance to people with a negative PCR test. Clubs and discos, however, will be closed after 28 December.

Shops will still be off-limits for the unvaccinated, save for essential services like grocery stores and pharmacies.

On New Year’s Eve, the sale of pyrotechnics will be banned. The government strongly advises the citizens against using fireworks, as the risk of injury has the chance to burden the healthcare system unnecessarily.

Finally, people will need a valid green certificate to use local public transport, as well as for long distances. This means that citizens need to be vaccinated, tested or have a PCR test or rapid test. The test must not be older than 24 hours, at the start of the passengers’ journey.

Germany is pondering a general vaccine mandate

Today, the German Ethics Council – an expert body addressing the ethical, scientific, medical and social aspects of certain policy decisions – spoke out in favour of a vaccine mandate. This development is due to fears from the rising Omicron variant.

Furthermore, 13 of the 24 councillors are in favour of a general vaccine mandate. Meanwhile, seven are in favour of a partial mandate, targeted at specific high-risk occupations, as well as people in vulnerable groups.

The Ethics Council spoke out about a moral obligation to get vaccinated against coronavirus – to protect others. Although they acknowledged that a vaccine mandate is an encroachment on personal freedoms, the damage that the pandemic can do to society is far greater. The council pointed out that people also have the right to education, culture and healthcare - the latter being essentially closed for any other treatments during an outbreak.

Their final declaration signed by 20 out of the 24 members states that a vaccine mandate is justified as a protective measure against the serious consequences of the pandemic.

According to the DPA, parliament will vote on mandatory vaccination at the beginning of 2022. Chancellor Olaf Scholz has spoken out in favour of the measure before.

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