Chancellor Angela Merkel said that unvaccinated people would be barred from several public places such as non-essential shops and events. The only exemption would be if they have recently recovered from COVID-19.
“Culture and leisure nationwide will be open only to those who have been vaccinated or recovered,” Merkel said on Thursday. “We have understood that the situation is very serious and that we want to take further measures in addition to those already taken.”
Merkel also said that a country-wide vaccination mandate could be implemented as early as Feb. 2022 after it is debated in parliament.
Only 68.7% of the German population is fully vaccinated, significantly lower than the government’s aim of 75%.
The news is the latest blow to the German culture industry. In the wake of mounting COVID-19 cases, the European Film Awards scheduled as an in-person event for Dec. 11 has now pivoted to a largely digital hybrid event.
In addition, in recent days it has emerged that the Berlin Film Festival, the jewel of Germany’s cinema calendar, could move from its traditional slot to June after Medienboard, Berlin’s film and TV fund, announced it was pushing its lavish annual party tied to the festival.
The concern is mainly with the newly detected Omicron strain of the coronavirus, which is spreading around the world, but remains largely an unknown quantity.
As of Dec. 2, the number of new laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases in Germany are 73,209 and there were 388 new deaths associated with the virus, according to the country’s Robert Koch Institute. The national seven-day incidence is 439.2 cases per 100,000 population. Overall, 1,525 new hospitalizations with COVID-19 were reported.