The outgoing German chancellor attended an emergency meeting with regional leaders on Thursday afternoon – after Covid cases reached record highs. It is understood the 67-year-old began the meeting by telling officials “we are full”, in an apparent reference to intensive care units.
Leaders agreed to take drastic action to reduce the delivery of Covid by restrictions on those who were not vaccinated.
In regions where hospitalizations have exceeded a certain threshold, authorities will have the powers to restrict access in certain public spaces, such as hospitality venues, to those who have been vaccinated or cured of COVID-19.
Ms Merkel remains in Germany’s care while Social Democrat leader Olaf Scholz continues to negotiate a coalition government.
The finance minister and chancellor-in-waiting supported the plans.
He said: “To get through the winter, we will see drastic measures that have not been taken before.”
The measures come in the same week, Austria imposed a blockade for the unvaccinated.
Saxony, in eastern Germany has the highest rate of infection and lowest level of vaccination.
Saxon leader Michael Kretschmer suggested that partial confinement should take effect.
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Germany recorded 65,371 new coronavirus cases on Thursday – a new daily record.
The critical figure came 24 hours after the nation recorded 52,826 infections.
Ms Merkel acknowledged that a fourth wave of coronavirus was hitting Germany with “full force”.
On Wednesday, a German leader urged people to go out and get vaccinated.
Ms Merkel said: “It is not too late to choose a first vaccine.
“Everyone who is vaccinated protects themselves and others. And if enough people are vaccinated, that’s the way out of the pandemic.”
Germany’s vaccine advisory committee has also recommended reinforcing shots for all over-18s.
Meanwhile, German Health Minister Jens Spahn urged doctors not to be too strict about waiting six months between doses.