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German government is meeting Tuesday to debate further measures to restrict public gatherings and social contact, particularly for the non-vaccinated, in anticipation of a new wave of COVID-19 infections driven by the omicron variant of the virus.
The German federal government is meeting with state premiers on Tuesday afternoon to debate new measures, which could force bars and clubs to shut down and fans banned from live sporting events, including the Bundesliga professional soccer league.
Details of the proposed measures, which leaked to the German media Monday night, do not include shutting down cinemas, though new social distancing measures or further capacity restrictions for theaters might be in the cards.
Any new restrictions are expected to be introduced after Christmas, with December 28 as the date cited for the next “mini-lockdown”.
Health experts have called for Germany to tighten restrictions in order to avoid the worst effects of omicron, the new coronavirus variant which has spread rapidly in other countries, driving a spike in infections in the U.S., U.K., and Denmark among other countries.
Germany recorded 23,428 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, a slight drop from a week earlier. But virologists suggest this could be the calm before the storm, and expect a new wave of infections as the highly-virulent omicron variant spreads through the country.
The measures under discussion, according to media leaks, include restricting public gatherings inside to 10 people and shutting interior areas of bars and clubs, effectively canceling any wild New Year’s Eve parties. The public will be banned from large sporting and cultural events, such as concerts.
The proposals do not include shutting down cinemas, as happened last winter when Germany was hit by a second wave of COVID-19 infections. Instead, the government is expected to extend restrictions banning the unvaccinated from movie theaters and other cultural activities. A tightening of regulations, including further capacity restrictions or requiring the vaccinated to also provide a recent negative COVID-19 test — so-called 2G Plus restrictions— are a possibility.
Germany’s neighbor the Netherlands went back into full lockdown on Sunday, shutting cinemas and other non-essential venues, citing concerns over the spread of omicron. Denmark has also introduced tighter regulations and closed its movie theaters, and Ireland has put cinemas on a tight 8 pm curfew. The U.K government is also debating further restrictions amid a spike in coronavirus infections there.
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