Merkel’s push for German blockade blocked when death toll exceeds 100,000

BERLIN, GERMANY – SEPTEMBER 22: German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) speaks with Deputy Chancellor and Federal Minister of Finance Olaf Scholz.

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The Covid-19 crisis in Germany continues to shake the nation with sad news Thursday that the total death toll has exceeded 100,000.

However, the country’s new incoming coalition government is resisting a lockdown, for now.

Germany reported a large number of new Covid cases on Thursday, with more than 75,000 new infections in the last 24 hours (up from 66,884 on Wednesday), while the death toll has now reached 100,119 after 351 more people died from the virus during the previous day.

Government officials have been watching the surge in cases with alarm for weeks, and the country’s outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel reportedly pushed for a two-week shutdown during a meeting Tuesday with the country’s incoming coalition government.

According to the newspaper Bild, the new government alliance of left-wing Social Democrats and Greens and business-friendly Free Democrats rejected the idea, preferring instead to wait and see if the stricter Covid restrictions announced last week would work to help reduce infections

While Merkel had proposed a shutdown, to start Thursday, which would have caused shops, bars and restaurants to close, the idea was rejected by the incoming government, who said public opinion would have interpreted it as a “bad political stunt.” by the government. old and new government, Image reported on Wednesday.

Mandatory vaccination

(Left to right) Christian Lindner of the German Free Democrats (FDP), Olaf Scholz of the German Social Democrats (SPD) and Annalene Baerbock and Robert Habeck of the Green Party pose after presenting their mutually agreed coalition contract to the media . on November 24, 2021 in Berlin, Germany.

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After the deal and the coalition’s political ambitions were announced on Wednesday, Scholz noted that the Covid crisis was an immediate priority for the government. He started a press conference announcing the coalition agreement saying that the virus situation in Germany was dire and that the country would expand its vaccination campaign, including mandating vaccinations for some people.

“Vaccination is the way out of this pandemic. In institutions that serve vulnerable groups, we should make vaccination mandatory,” Scholz said, without specifying further details.

Meanwhile, incoming Finance Minister Christian Lindner declared that Germans should avoid all unnecessary contact this winter “to preserve all our health in this pandemic.”

Germany has already tightened Covid rules amid the latest fourth wave of cases in the country.

Many states in Germany have already restricted access to public spaces such as bars, restaurants, cinemas and museums under the “2G rules”, restricting access only to those who are vaccinated – “vaccinated” in German – or recovered, “recovered”. Several of the major German Christmas markets that have not been canceled this year have also adopted 2G rules.

New measures came into effect on Wednesday imposing “3G” rules on public transport and anyone accessing a workplace, meaning that more public spaces are restricted to those vaccinated, recently recovered, or those who have had a negative test (“tested”).

If Germany opts for mandatory vaccination in some settings, it will not be the first to do so. The UK, France and Italy are among the countries that have adopted (or are introducing) compulsory vaccination for some sectors, such as healthcare or domestic workers.

Still, mandatory vaccinations are a thorny subject and have many ethical considerations and Germany could expect to see a pushback against the measure, as other countries have done.

Read more: Are the Covid vaccine mandates ethical? Here’s what medical experts think

Germany has tried to encourage voluntary acceptance of the Covid vaccine among its population, but it has one of the lowest Covid immunization rates in Western Europe, with 68.1% of its population fully vaccinated.

Vaccine hesitation, the arrival of the winter season, and the spread of the highly infectious delta variant Covid, which is much more virulent than previous strains, make the virus much more difficult to contain this time for Germany, a country widely praised for its initial handling of the virus. pandemic.

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