The German parliament voted to end nationwide restrictions introduced to contain the coronavirus pandemic on Friday. The vote came despite a consistently high infection rate.
Germany’s three-party governing coalition pushed the bill, which every opposition party opposed. The Bundesrat, the upper house made up of representatives from 16 states, also approved the bill.
The law would allow the removal of mask requirements nationwide, except in facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes, where vulnerable people are kept. Federal states will still be able to require face masks on public transportation.
Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said, “We cannot continue to protect the entire country by protecting a small group of people who are not willing to be vaccinated and unwilling to go along with measures to protect them.” ”
Meanwhile, according to the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s incidence rate – coronavirus cases per 100,000 people during one week – hit a record high of 1,706.3 on Friday.
Here are the latest significant developments on coronavirus from around the world:
On Saturday, China recorded the first COVID-related deaths in more than a year, as the country faces an omicron-driven surge. Health officials reported two deaths, both in northeastern Jilin province.
Dutch prosecutors said a well-known anti-COVID activist protesting government measures in the Netherlands would be held in custody for two more weeks on charges of incitement.
Willem Engel was taken into custody in Rotterdam on Wednesday after more than 22,000 people signed a complaint against him.
Health officials said France saw its infection rate increase by 25% last week. It lifted most of its coronavirus restrictions on Monday. However, the hospital admission rate has remained stable.