The autumn break in Germany caused a new, fourth wave of the pandemic, mainly among unvaccinated Germans, with more than 20,000 new cases and 194 deaths reported on Wednesday.
“We are currently experiencing a pandemic mainly among the unvaccinated and it is massive,” the country’s health minister Jens Spahn said at a press conference, stressing that intensive care units across the country were starting to run out of beds once more.
Spahn called on all of the regional governments to toughen the rules for those who are unvaccinated in the event of a significant outbreak of infections in their specific region.
The suggested measures include preventing people who did not receive the jab from entering certain public places, unless in the possession of a valid PCR test.
Each of the fourteen German regions, or federal states, is allowed to decide on its own restrictions.
Some, such as Saxony or Baden-Württemberg, have already implemented similar measures, or are about to introduce them.
Germany has seen Covid-19 cases skyrocket since the end of the autumn break or “Herbstferien,” usually taking place between mid-October and early November.
Spahn, who has been a part of the outgoing chancellor Angela Merkel’s government since 2018, also stated he wanted to see a stepping up of the booster vaccinations programme.
In Germany, the booster vaccine is currently recommended to be administered six months after the first full vaccination with two doses only for those over 70.
Chancellor Angela Merkel also expressed her concern over the weekend.
The time is “again of a certain recklessness”, she lamented.
Although she defended the decision not to make vaccination obligatory in the country, Merkel stated that she was “very saddened” that “two to three million Germans over 60 are still not vaccinated.”
According to the latest figures from the Robert Koch Institute, 55.6 million citizens or 66.8 per cent of the population have been fully immunised, having received two doses of the vaccine.
Lothar Wieler, the president of the Robert Koch Institute and the government’s advisor on the pandemic, echoed Spahn’s words of warning.
“The fourth wave of the pandemic is, unfortunately, occurring as we feared because the number of those vaccinated is insufficient” to provide any form of herd immunity, Wieler said.
Wieler also regretted that the rules on access to public places, such as restaurants or theatres, were not always followed properly.