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Germany tightens Covid restrictions as Omicron variant takes hold | Coronavirus

| News Today | World News

Germans in large parts of the country are facing a toughening of rules governing private and public spaces in a bid to slow a wave of coronavirus infections triggered by the Omicron variant.

Indoor and outdoor gatherings are to be limited in size as of Monday, with recreational facilities – from gyms to swimming pools and nightclubs to movie theaters – closing in several states and restaurants facing closing hours earlier.

The New Year’s fireworks, usually organized by private households and held in the majority of German streets, have been canceled for the second year in a row.

Stricter protective measures will apply to those who have so far not accepted the offer to be vaccinated, or to those who for medical reasons are unable to do so, but the vaccinated and those who have recovered from Covid-19 will face a new range of limitations.

Private gatherings are restricted in areas that had not already introduced the rule in the run-up to Christmas to a maximum of 10 people, for those who are vaccinated or cured. In the case of unvaccinated persons, up to two other external persons per household are allowed to meet. Children under 14 are excluded from the quota.

The obligation to wear a medical mask, introduced almost a year ago, remains in place in shops and on public transport, as does the need to present a vaccination certificate in places where access is unavailable. is only possible for people who have been vaccinated.

Policymakers say the plan is to mitigate the spread of the much more infectious Omicron variant and use the time saved by slowing it down to give booster shots to as many Germans as possible.

Just under 71% of Germans have so far received two doses of the vaccine and just under 36% have received a booster.

Before Christmas, Chancellor Olaf Scholz had set a target of delivering vaccines to 80% of the population by January 7. But the government admitted on Monday that it was behind schedule and would have to extend the deadline to the end of January.