A wave of coronavirus cases sweeping across Germany has plunged the country into a national emergency, Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Friday, adding that the situation was more serious than a week ago.
“We are in a national emergency,” Spahn told a news conference.
According to a Thursday report, Germany is also planning to limit large parts of public life in areas where hospitals are becoming dangerously full of COVID-19 patients to those who have either been vaccinated or have recovered from the illness.
National and regional leaders meeting on Thursday agreed with the measure as part of their response to the fourth wave of the pandemic that is raging in Germany, overburdening hospitals in some areas.
In places where hospitalization rates exceed a certain threshold, access to the public, cultural and sports events, and to restaurants will be restricted to those who have been vaccinated or who have recovered.
Saxony, the region hardest hit by the fourth wave, is already considering a partial lockdown, including closing theatres, concerts, and soccer games, Bild newspaper reported. The eastern state has Germany’s lowest vaccination rate and highest infection rate.
New daily infections have risen 14-fold in the past month in Saxony, a stronghold of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which harbors many vaccine skeptics and anti-lockdown protesters.