Germany plans to tighten COVID-19 rules to curb omicron

Germany’s federal and state governments on Friday discussed stricter COVID-19 rules as the country braces for a new wave driven by the omicron variant.

According to a draft prepared by the federal government, people without booster shots will need to present a negative test result to enter cafes and restaurants from Jan. 15 onwards, public broadcaster ZDF reported.

Citizens will also be asked to wear more protective FFP-2 masks in most indoor public places, inside shops and public transport to curb the spread of the highly transmissible variant.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is scheduled to hold a news conference later in the day to announce the decisions taken during the video conference meeting with the premiers of the country's federal states.

Health officials have been warning that the number of omicron cases is doubling every two to three days, and it is capable of causing a massive fifth wave of the pandemic in the coming weeks.

The Robert Koch Institute, the country's disease control agency, reported 11,502 new omicron cases in the past 24 hours, taking the total number of infections with the new variant to 62,974.

So far, 16 people have died after contracting the omicron, and 632 people received treatment at hospitals, according to the official figures.

The German government is calling on citizens to strictly comply with anti-coronavirus measures and get their COVID-19 booster vaccine to protect themselves.

So far, 34.6 million people (41.6 % of the population) have received a booster shot, according to the Health Ministry.

Experts say booster shots are necessary against omicron as immunity from the initial doses starts wearing off over time. A third dose is providing a high level of protection against the variant, according to preliminary lab studies.

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