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Hamburg has introduced tougher restrictions and Munich's Christkindlmarkt has been ditched altogether. Meanwhile, Germany has recorded its highest ever daily caseload. Follow DW for the latest.
Germany's Christmas markets will see visitors wearing masks and limited numbers, in stark contrast to the 2019 festivities
For the first time in two years, Germans will hit the Christmas markets on Wednesday, but millions will have to sit this one out due to a number of cities demanding proof of vaccination if people want to enjoy the festivities to the full.
With Germany recording its highest ever daily caseload on Wednesday, the markets, suspended last year due to the pandemic, must now comply with strict safety rules that vary from state to state, with some not accepting a negative COVID test for entrance.
Hamburg is among the most prominent to demand visitors demonstrate proof of vaccination against COVID-19, or provide evidence they have recently recovered from the virus, if they wish to enjoy a mulled wine, a hot chocolate or some gingerbread under festive lights in the city's main square.
Mulled wine is a big hit among those looking to stay warm, but will only be available to the vaccinated or recovered at Hamburg's central market
Unvaccinated revelers will still be able to peruse the bottle-green stalls selling handicrafts or jewelry, listen to carols, ride on the merry-go-round or admire the nativity scenes.
Germany has one of the lowest vaccination rates in western Europe, with just 67% of the population fully vaccinated, and is currently reporting record caseloads as Europe's largest economy battles a fourth wave of infections.
Some are even questioning the wisdom of having any markets at all as intensive care units fill up once more with COVID patients. Munich's Christkindlmarkt has become the biggest market to be canceled so far.
"The dramatic situation in our clinics and the exponentially rising infection numbers leave me no choice," Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter (SDP) told Bavarian radio.
German football is following a similar path to Hamburg's Christmas market, with this weekend's Berlin derby between Union and Hertha set to take place with only those recently recovered from or vaccinated against, COVID-19, in attendance, the German capital's department for sport has declared.
Also on Wednesday, Germany recorded its highest caseload since the onset of the pandemic.
The Robert Koch Institute of infectious diseases (RKI) registered 52,826 positive tests in its daily update, while 294 people died in connection with the virus.
The seven-day incidence rate in Germany now stands at 319.5 cases per 100,000 people, according to the RKI statistics, which is also the highest it has been since the pandemic began.
Here are the latest major developments on coronavirus from around the world:
COVID-19 infections in Austria hit a new daily record on Wednesday. Thats as the country marks the third day of a lockdown for unvaccinated citizens, as health authorities try and halt the current surge.
Around 65% of the population has been inoculated, which is one of the lowest rates in Europe.
As of Thursday, Ireland will require bars and nightclubs to close early while ramping its booster vaccine program in a bid to combat a resurgence cases.
The Irish government is also asking people to work from home again, as case numbers rise and ICUs fill up nationwide.
In a televised broadcast, Prime Minister Micheal Martin said it was increasingly clear the country was experiencing "another surge" of infections and that he had "to act now."
"Our advice is that everyone should work from home unless it is absolutely necessary that they attend in person," he said.
In the Czech Republic people who have not been vaccinated will be banned from attending public events from Monday according to the country's Prime Minister Andrej Babis.
Negative tests would no longer be recognized. The restrictions which are to be approved by cabinet follow a surge in infections with a record 22,479 seen on Tuesday.
The European Union's drug regulator said it had received an application from US biotech firm Novavax to authorize its vaccine.
The European Medicines Agency said it started conducting an evaluation of the data and a decision is possible within a few weeks. The Novavax shot is produced using different technology to the other major pharmaceutical companies. Novavax is produced with lab-grown copies of spike protein, which coat the coronavirus and then trigger an immune reaction.
New restrictions come into force in Beijing on Wednesday with visitors to the city requiring negative tests. In addition, the number of domestic flights to the capital has been reduced.
With less than 100 days to before the Winter Olympics gets underway, China is bracing itself for a challenge to its zero-COVID strategy when thousands of international athletes descend on the Chinese capital after months of strict border controls.
All visitors to Beijing must now show a negative coronavirus test result from the past 48 hours, while flights from higher risk areas within the country of 1.3 billion people will be canceled or limited to one a day at reduced capacity.
Domestic borders of New Zealand's largest city Auckland will reopen from December 15 for those who are fully vaccinated and for people with negative test results, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Wednesday.
"Aucklanders have faced restrictions for an extended period of time to keep the rest of New Zealand safe. But with increased rates of vaccination it's time to open up the ability to travel again," Ardern said.
Auckland was cut off from the rest of the country after the outbreak of the Delta variant in August.
jsi/aw (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)