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 complete.
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 noticeable to need 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 obtainable to the vaccinated or recovered at Hamburg’s central market
Unvaccinated revelers will nevertheless 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 already 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 emotional 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 situations 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:
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 situations.
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, chief 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.
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, chief 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 sudden increase of the Delta variant in August.
jsi/aw (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)
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