Germany set to ease COVID curbs as infection wave flattens

BERLIN: Germany is set to ease COVID-19 restrictions as a wave of infections from the omicron coronavirus variant seems to have passed its peak in most federal states, a draft plan seen by Reuters showed on Wednesday.
In the three stage plan, restrictions on private indoor meetings will be dropped for those vaccinated or recovered from the virus, according to the draft, prepared for a meeting between Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the heads of the federal states on Wednesday.
Checks at non-essential stores for a proof of vaccination or a negative test result will be abolished but a requirement to wear a mask will remain in place.
In the second phase, the maximum permitted size for outdoor events will increase to 25,000 people and night clubs will re-open for those who have received a booster shot or who are fully vaccinated and can show a negative test.
Unvaccinated Germans will be allowed into restaurants with a negative test from March 4, the draft showed.
Germany has been slower in easing restrictions than some other European countries such as Denmark, Switzerland and Austria, which announced on Wednesday that it was lifting most COVID-19 restrictions by March 5. Switzerland will lift most pandemic restrictions from midnight on Wednesday, the government said.
German health minister Karl Lauterbach said the country could not relax restrictions too quickly, since Germany has a lower vaccination rate than some of its neighbors.
On Wednesday, Germany reported 219,972 new daily coronavirus cases, down 6 percent compared to the same day last week. The seven-day infection incidence per 100,000 people also dropped to 1,401 from 1,438 on Tuesday.

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