Germany: Incoming minister advises against festive travel

BERLIN (AP) – Germany’s incoming transport minister is advising people against travelling over Christmas as the country tries to stem a wave of coronavirus infections.

Federal and state leaders on Thursday announced tough new restrictions that largely target un-vaccinated people, preventing them from entering non-essential stores, restaurants, sports and cultural venues. In a longer-term move, parliament will consider a general vaccine mandate.

Volker Wissing, whose pro-business party has designated him as transport minister in the incom-ing government, told yesterday’s edition of the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that “in the current situation, it seems more sensible to spend Christmas in a small group at home and not to plan big trips across the country”.

“Winter 2021 will be more dramatic than winter 2020,” he added.

The new government under centre-left Chancellor-designate Olaf Scholz is expected to take office on Wednesday, subject to the three parties that will form it signing off on their coalition deal and Scholz winning the backing of a parliamentary majority.

At least 68.9 per cent of Germans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, short of the govern-ment’s aim of a minimum 75-per- cent vaccination rate. The shortfall has been blamed as a key factor in a surge of new virus cases in recent weeks.

People wear face masks as they visit the traditional Christmas market in Frankfurt, Germany. PHOTO: AP