BERLIN (Reuters) – Olaf Scholz, who is set to take over as German chancellor next week, supports making vaccination against COVID-19 compulsory and backs barring the unvaccinated from non-essential stores, sources said on Tuesday.
Scholz and outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel were meeting regional leaders on Tuesday to discuss how to respond to soaring infections in a fourth wave of the pandemic.
According to sources with information about the discussion, Scholz told the meeting he was in favour of a cross-party initiative to make vaccines mandatory, with the hope that it could be put into practice by the end of February.
Neighbouring Austria, which like Germany has a relatively low rate of vaccination compared with the rest of western Europe, earlier this month announced plans to make vaccines compulsory as of February.
Scholz is also in favour of making non-essential stores require customers to show proof of vaccination or recovery from COVID-19, the sources said.
Germany’s Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases reported that 452.2 people per 100,000 were infected in the last week, down slightly from 452.4 on Monday. It was the first decline since early November.
Despite this, the number of new daily cases rose slightly on Tuesday compared to last week to 45,753, and another 388 deaths were recorded – the highest daily figure since early March. That bought the overall death toll to 101,344.
(Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Miranda Murray and Alison Williams)