The outgoing German Chancellor attended an emergency meeting with regional leaders on Thursday afternoon – after Covid cases rose to record highs. The 67-year-old is understood to have started the meeting by telling officials “we are full”, in an apparent reference to intensive care units.
Leaders agreed to take drastic action to reduce Covid transmission by placing restrictions on those who have not been vaccinated.
In regions where hospitalisations have exceeded a certain threshold, authorities will have the powers to restrict access in certain public spaces, such as hospitality venues, to those who have been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19.
Ms Merkel remains in caretaker charge of Germany as Social Democrat leader Olaf Scholz continues to negotiate a coalition government.
The finance minister and Chancellor-in-waiting backed the plans.
He said: “To get through the winter, we will see drastic measures that have not been taken before.”
The measures come in the same week Austria imposed a lockdown for the unvaccinated.
Saxony, in eastern Germany has the highest rate of infection and lowest level of vaccination.
Saxony leader Michael Kretschmer suggested a partial lockdown is due to come into force.
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Germany recorded 65,371 new coronavirus cases on Thursday – a new daily record.
The worrying figure came 24 hours after the nation recorded 52,826 infections.
Ms Merkel acknowledged a fourth wave of coronavirus is hitting Germany with “full force”.
On Wednesday, German leader urged people go out and get vaccinated.
Ms Merkel said: “It is not too late to opt for a first vaccine shot.
“Everyone who gets vaccinated protects himself and others. And if enough people get vaccinated that is the way out of the pandemic.”
Germany’s vaccine advisory committee has also recommended booster shots for everyone aged over 18.
Meanwhile, German Health Minister Jens Spahn has urged doctors not to be too strict about waiting six months between doses.