German health chiefs call for stricter COVID curbs
The German Medical Association on Saturday called for stricter curbs to stem the spread of COVID-19 this winter.
The organization's president Klaus Reinhardt said only those vaccinated or recovered from the coronavirus should be allowed to visit restaurants, bars and cinemas — the so-called "2G" rule.
He said unvaccinated people should, if necessary, be temporarily subject to lockdown measures as the country faces a fourth wave of the pandemic.
"When it comes to securing inpatient care, I think these measures are justified. After all, it is mainly unvaccinated people who have to be treated for severe COVID infections in hospitals," Reinhardt added.
Lockdown for unvaccinated?
Karl Lauterbach, the center-left Social Democrats' (SPD) health spokesman, backed up the call for unvaccinated people to face stiffer curbs.
He said they should be prevented from anything that isn't part of their daily needs, like grocery shopping or visiting drug stores.
Fresh concerns have been voiced about the availability of intensive care beds for seriously ill COVID patients in the same week that Germany's virus caseload hit a record daily high.
Uwe Janssens from DIVI, the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine, told public television channel Tagesschau24 that there were only 20 ICU beds free in the city of Munich.
Nationwide, there are currently almost 2,300 COVID patients in intensive care wards.
Janssens warned that just under half of patients in ICU are under 60 years of age and most are unvaccinated.
Unvaccinated key workers face new pressure
Meanwhile, the doctors' union, Marburger Bund, has spoken out in favor of job-related vaccination requirements.
At its general meeting, delegates said they think medical staff, those that work in elderly and nursing homes, schools and day care centers should be obligated to get vaccinated.
Without the rule, health experts think that many vulnerable groups will be put at higher risk of contracting COVID.
On Friday, Health Minister Jens Spahn announced that booster vaccine shots will be offered to all, and not just to those over 60.
"Boosters after six months should become the rule, rather than the exception," he said, but that priority should go to the elderly and care workers.
Saxony takes lead in new curbs
On Monday, Saxony will become the first German state to implement the so-called 2G rule for entry restaurants, clubs or leisure and cultural facilities.
A similar rule will come into force in Austria from Monday.
Most of Germany is currently operating under the "3G" rule, which also includes those who test negative for COVID, but to varying degrees of rigidity.