Germany relaxes restrictions, discusses COVID-19 vaccine mandate

German lawmakers are debating a possible COVID-19 vaccine mandate as the country sets a new record for the number of newly confirmed cases.

BERLIN – German lawmakers are debating a possible COVID-19 vaccine mandate as the country set a new record for the number of confirmed cases on Thursday. Still, some government officials are championing the relaxation of restrictions.

The country’s disease control agency has reported 294,931 new cases in the last 24 hours. The Robert Koch Institute estimates that there have been 278 more covid-related deaths, bringing the total to 126,420 since the epidemic began.

A final decision on the initial proposal to make vaccination compulsory for all adults in Germany is not expected in a few weeks. Opponents of the measure suggest compulsory vaccination only for people over the age of 50, while others reject the idea outright.

Despite the fact that the infection rate is much higher than in many neighboring countries, government officials have defended Germany’s plan to end some restrictions on Sunday.

“This is a step towards normalcy and I say this is what we need,” Finance Minister Christian Lindner told public broadcaster ARD.

The government wants to allow 16 German states to decide for themselves where targeted restrictions are needed instead of nationwide rules.

Germany’s powerful industrial lobby group BDI has warned against lifting a “liberal” measure, saying it would be irresponsible in light of the growing infection.

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