By Birgit Jennen
Nov 18, 2021, 7:48 PM – Updated on Nov 18, 2021, 10:01 PM
Word Count: 499
Greece expanded restrictions for unvaccinated residents on Thursday, while the Czech Republic and Slovakia imposed expanded bans. The Netherlands resumed a partial lockdown last week and Austria is using police checks to deter people from breaching its vaccine requirements.
“We are in the midst of the fourth wave and have to deal with a dramatic situation and draw the needed conclusions,” Merkel told reporters after a meeting of national and state government leaders.
Extraordinary measures “are necessary and justified,” the leaders said in a statement. They’ll apply to a broad range of activities and venues from sports and cultural events to restaurants, bars and gyms.
Germany, which is Europe’s biggest economy, reported more than 65,000 infections in a day for the first time Thursday and hospitals faced with stretched intensive-care units are sounding the alarm. The changes, which include a requirement for employers to let employees to work from home, replace emergency powers that will expire on Nov. 25.
The rules kick in above a certain level of hospital admissions. Based on official data, almost all of Germany exceeds that level, which was set at three hospitalizations per 100,000 people on a rolling seven-day average. Business owners and event organizers face fines if they don’t enforce the restrictions.
The officials also agreed to resume free Covid tests, which were suspended during a relative lull in new cases.
“Vaccination was and is the way out of the pandemic, especially now,” according to the statement.
Austria Orders Lockdown for Unvaccinated as Covid Cases Climb
Czechs and Slovaks Join Crackdown on Eastern Europe Outbreak
Greece Is Latest European Country to Restrict the Unvaccinated
Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch Institute, a federal health agency, painted a grim picture.
“We have never been as alarmed as we are now” and the news from hospitals is “super gloomy,” German media quoted him as saying during a panel discussion on Wednesday.
Germany’s latest pandemic plan:
Setting hospitalization benchmark to trigger lockdown measures
Expanding states’ vaccination campaigns with increased offerings
Increasing booster shots
Mandatory option for working from home if possible
Only vaccinated or recovered people, or those testing negative, on public transport
Obligatory testing for all people entering clinics and care homes
Penalties for falsifying Covid vaccine certificates or test results
Germany’s Social Democrats, Green party and the Free Democrats, who are in talks to form a government to succeed Merkel’s center-right administration, used their lower-house majority on Thursday to approve nationwide measures giving states a legal basis to impose restrictions.
(Updates with other European countries in third paragraph, list of measures after 11 paragraph.)
–With assistance from Ros Krasny.