Germany’s health minister has warned the country’s citizens that they’ll either be “vaccinated, recovered or dead” by the end of the coming winter season.
“By the end of this winter everyone in Germany will either be vaccinated, recovered or dead,” Jens Spahn told a news conference in Berlin on Monday, as reported by BBC News.
With just 68% of people fully vaccinated, Germany has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Europe. Meanwhile, its infection rate is at the highest level since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and among the highest rates in the world.
Germany is now looking to introduce even tighter COVID-19 restrictions. “Restrictions for unvaccinated people will be introduced in areas where hospital admissions exceed a set threshold, Chancellor Angela Merkel and leaders of Germany’s 16 states agreed,” BBC News reported. “Under the rules, the unvaccinated will be excluded from certain venues.”
“We need to quickly put a brake on the exponential rise” in cases and intensive care unit occupancy, said Merkel.
Germany is not the only country in Europe to tighten COVID-19 restrictions in response to a spike in cases. Earlier in November, with cases of COVID-19 rising in the country, Austria’s chancellor Alexander Schallenberg threatened the use of lockdown measures for unvaccinated people.
This move followed the implementation of social distancing requirements, which barred unvaccinated people from various public areas, such as large events, cafes, and restaurants.
Last month, the chancellor said that unvaccinated people in Austria could face lockdown restrictions if COVID-19 case numbers continue to increase.
“Austria has taken a series of measures in recent weeks in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 and encourage more people to get vaccinated. On Monday, new rules took effect barring unvaccinated people who haven’t recovered from an infection from restaurants, hotels, hairdressing salons and large public events,” reported The Associated Press.
This rule, known as the 2-G-rule, applies to vaccinated and “recovered” people, meaning that proof of past infection is accepted in place of vaccination. However, a negative COVID-19 test is no longer sufficient.
While visiting Bregenz in western Austria, the chancellor said that a lockdown for unvaccinated people was “probably unavoidable.” He also added that the unvaccinated are facing an “uncomfortable” winter and Christmas.
Protests have also broken out across Europe in reaction to these forms of increased COVID-19 lockdowns. Tens of thousands of people marched in Brussels, Belgium, with protestors clashing with police officers in response to factors like COVID-19 passports. Belgium, the Netherlands, and Italy are among other countries who have witnessed protests and riots in recent weeks.
“Covid-19 has become once again the number one cause of mortality in our region,” World Health Organization regional director, Dr. Hans Kluge, said, adding “we know what needs to be done” in order to fight the virus.
Dr Kluge also said that mandatory vaccination requirements should be viewed as a “last resort,” but added that it would be “very timely” to have a “legal and societal debate” on the subject.