Germany has approved stringent new measures to try and curb the latest COVID-19 wave sweeping Europe.
Among the new measures, which will be enforced “at the latest” from Dec. 28 according to reports, are the closure of nightclubs as well as the banning of spectators at large-scale musical, sporting and cultural events. Fireworks on New Year’s Eve will also be banned.
New restrictions will also be introduced for private gatherings. Only parties of 10 or fewer will be allowed to meet privately, both indoors and outdoors. The rules apply to both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals as well as those recently recovered from the virus. Children under the age of 14 will be exempt.
However, unvaccinated individuals will face further restrictions by only being permitted to meet with one other household.
The aim and timing of the new restrictions is intended to prevent large New Year’s Eve gatherings.
Christmas will not be affected. “Experience over the past two years has shown that Christmas and Easter haven’t been great drivers of infections,” Chancellor Olaf Scholz said, according to local broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
In the meantime, Germany’s “2G” rules remain in place, which mean that only vaccinated individuals or those recently recovered from the virus are permitted to enter public venues such as cinemas and restaurants.
Although organizers have remained bullish, the new restrictions will mean there is increased doubt over whether the Berlin Film Festival, which is due to return as an in-person event in February, will go ahead in its current iteration.
The new measures were announced following a meeting between Scholz and state leaders on Tuesday, who also announced the availability of financial aid for businesses impacted by the new restrictions. Germany’s elected officials continued to urge citizens to get vaccinated, although it is thought another full lockdown is not on the cards.
Deutsche Welle reported in the last 24 hours Germany has counted another 462 deaths from COVID-19 and 24,428 new positive cases.