New German Transport Minister warns against Christmas travel
Germany’s new transport minister advises people against traveling on Christmas as the country tries to stem a wave of coronavirus infections.
Federal and state leaders on Thursday announced tough new restrictions that widely target unvaccinated people, preventing them from entering non-essential shops, restaurants, sporting and cultural venues.
In the longer term, Parliament will consider a general mandate on vaccines.
Volker Wissing, whose pro-business party has appointed him as transport minister in the new government, told Sunday’s edition of the Bild Am Sonntag newspaper that “in the current situation it seems more advisable to spend Christmas in small group at home and not planning large trips across the country ”.
“Winter 2021 will be more dramatic than winter 2020,” he added.
The new government led by center-left chancellor-designate Olaf Scholz is expected to take office on Wednesday, provided that the three parties that will form it sign their coalition agreement and Mr Scholz obtains the support of a parliamentary majority.
At least 68.9% of Germans are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, falling short of the government’s target of a minimum vaccination rate of 75%.
The shortfall has been blamed as a key factor in a wave of new virus cases in recent weeks.
Official figures suggest the infection rate may now stabilize, but at too high a level.
On Sunday, the National Center for Disease Control reported 42,055 new daily cases and a seven-day infection rate of 439.2 new cases per 100,000 population.
Another 94 deaths in 24 hours brought Germany’s confirmed total in the pandemic to 103,040.
Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday launched a final direct appeal to Germans to get vaccinated, saying that an upsurge in deaths is “so bitter because it is preventable”.