German leaders, in transition, meet to mull virus measures
BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her likely successor met Thursday with state governors to consider tighter rules to curb coronavirus infections that again topped 70,000 newly confirmed cases in a 24-hour period.
Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, who is expected to be elected chancellor by a center-left coalition next week, said Tuesday that he backs a general vaccine mandate, but favors letting lawmakers vote according to their personal conscience rather than party lines on the matter.
The rise in COVID-19 cases over the past several weeks and the arrival of the new omicron variant have prompted warnings from scientists and doctors that medical services in the country could become overstretched in the coming weeks unless drastic action is taken. Some hospitals in the south and east of the country have already transferred patients to other parts of Germany because of a shortage of intensive care beds.
Agreeing what measures to take has been complicated by Germany’s political structure — with the 16 states responsible for many of the regulations — and the ongoing transition at the federal level.