The German state of Saxony on Friday announced sweeping new curbs for people who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 or recovered from the disease, as the country grapples with a dramatic surge in infections.
From Monday, access to indoor dining and other indoor events will be limited to those who are fully vaccinated or can show proof of recovery, local government minister Petra Koepping told a news conference in Dresden.
“We have not managed to build a protective wall of vaccinated people over the past few weeks and months,” Koepping said.
The new rules would mark the toughest state-wide restrictions in Germany against non-inoculated people. Only children as well as those who cannot receive jabs for medical reasons will be exempt.
The western state of Baden-Wuerttemberg had on Wednesday ordered costly PCR tests for unvaccinated people seeking access to indoor dining or other activities, but fell short of an all-out exclusion.
Germany registered 37,120 new infections in the past 24 hours on Friday, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) health agency – a record rise for the second day running.
Saxony has one of the highest incidence rates in the country at 385.7 new infections per 100,000 people over the past seven days.
It also has the lowest vaccination rate, with just 57% of its inhabitants fully inoculated, according to the RKI – compared with a national average of 67%.
The surge in German cases comes with the country in political limbo following September’s general election.
The incoming coalition parties, aiming to form a government by early December, have so far ruled out mandatory jabs and said there will be no new lockdowns – at least not for the vaccinated.
But several of Germany’s states, which have significant powers to decide their own Covid approach, have already agreed or are poised to introduce restrictions for the unvaccinated.
From Saturday, Bavaria will limit certain events and spaces in Covid hotspots to people who are fully vaccinated or can show proof of recovery – known as “2G” in Germany.
Berlin is also considering similar restrictions.
Germany’s regional health ministers on Friday called for Covid booster jabs for all as the country scrambles to tackle the surging fourth wave.
“The federal states agree that everyone who had their second jab six months ago or longer should be able to get an appropriate booster,” Bavarian Health Minister Klaus Holetschek told a news conference.
Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn has also called for booster jabs for all, but the Stiko vaccine commission has so far recommended them only for those aged over 70 or with pre-existing health conditions.