Germany adopts new restrictions to deal with Omicron

A reinforced vaccination pass in bars and restaurants: this is the main measure announced by the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, on Friday, January 7, in a country which remains for the moment less affected than the rest of Western Europe by the breaking Omicron. From January 15 at the latest, restaurant and bar customers will have to present a negative test in addition to a vaccination or cure certificate (so-called “2G +” rule). Only people who have already received a booster dose will be exempt from testing (“2G”). For the unvaccinated, the situation does not change: as has been the case since the end of autumn 2021, non-essential shops as well as places of leisure and culture will remain prohibited to them, even if they have been diagnosed negative after a test.

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Taking the example of other countries, Germany will also ease the isolation rules. Contaminated people and their contact cases will thus be able to leave quarantine after ten days instead of fourteen, a period reduced to seven days in the event of presentation of a negative test. A decision taken to avoid disrupting the country’s activity too much in the event of a new – expected – outbreak of Covid-19 cases due to the Omicron variant. And this, while half of the sixteen Länder are still on school holidays until the beginning of next week.

Avoid a disaster scenario

According to the latest report from the Robert-Koch health institute, published Thursday, Omicron is now responsible for 44% of contamination in Germany. This rate, admittedly lower than in other countries, such as France, where it exceeds 80%, is progressing very rapidly. Particularly in the north of the country, which had been relatively untouched by the Delta wave in the fall. This, particularly violent across the Rhine, had especially affected the eastern and southern regions, putting the hospital system on the verge of saturation.

Today, German hospitals are in a less tense situation: since the beginning of December, the number of patients with Covid-19 in intensive care units has fallen from just under 5,000 to around 3,700. But, with the spread of the Omicron variant, this respite may not last. According to some experts, the number of patients in critical care could rise to 8,000 in March. It would be unheard of since the start of the pandemic in Germany.

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In order to avoid such a catastrophic scenario, Olaf Scholz once again called on his fellow citizens to be vaccinated. “The vaccination rate of Germans is not high enough”, he lamented, Thursday, after a meeting with the minister-presidents of the Länder. According to the Robert-Koch Institute, 71.6% of the population received two doses, which places Germany behind Portugal, Spain, Italy or France. Facing the press, the new chancellor also reiterated that he was in favor of compulsory vaccination for all, welcoming that this position is now shared by the heads of the sixteen Länder of the country.

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Germany adopts new restrictions to deal with Omicron

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