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Germany plans to make vaccination compulsory for some jobs, Poland to introduce new measures

coronavirus disease (covid 19) outbreak continues in berlin
The incoming German government wants to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory from March 16 for people working in hospitals, nursing homes and other medical practices REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

The incoming German government wants to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory from March 16 for people working in hospitals, nursing homes and other medical practices, according to a copy of draft legislation seen by Reuters on Sunday.

Germany has been reticent about making vaccines compulsory for fear of exacerbating a shortage of medical and nursing home staff, but support has grown for the idea as the country has faced surging infections in a fourth wave of the pandemic.

The Social Democrats, Greens and Free Democrats, which are set to form the new German government on Wednesday, are set to present the legislation to parliament in the coming week.

The draft seen by Reuters said staff working in these areas would have to prove that they are vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 or present a medical certificate to show they cannot be vaccinated by March 15.

As the country seeks to vaccinate or offer boosters to 30 million people before Christmas, the draft legislation also grants permission for dentists, veterinarians and pharmacists to be allowed to give shots for a temporary period with the appropriate training.

The proposed legislation extends until Feb. 15 temporary measures that would allow Germany‘s federal states to introduce more drastic lockdown measures if needed.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said his government would present a new package of pandemic restrictions this week in response to the new Omicron coronavirus variant and was considering how to handle the approaching Christmas holidays.

“Tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow at the latest, we will present a second (package) related to the Christmas situation, and as reaction to the virus’ Omicron mutation because the situation is indeed not looking good… We have many deaths,” Morawiecki told a news conference.

“We will strengthen the vaccination mechanism, making it compulsory for some jobs. We are considering this and we will certainly discuss stronger restrictions in certain places for people who are not vaccinated.”

Pandemic restrictions in Poland are relatively limited. They include the wearing of masks in enclosed spaces and limits on the number of people allowed into public venues such as restaurants.

Only 54% of Poles are fully vaccinated, lower than the 66.4% average in the European Union.

Amid concerns over the new variant, at the end of November Poland banned flights to seven African countries, extended the quarantine period for some travellers and reduced limits on numbers allowed into shops or bars.

The health ministry reported 13,250 new coronavirus infections on Monday and 25 COVID-related deaths, but numbers are usually lower after the weekend.

Poland, with a total population of 38 million, has recorded more than three and a half million COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic and 85,700 deaths.

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