Americans Advised to Avoid Germany Travel, Nation Weighs Vaccine Mandate Amid COVID Spike

The U.S. State Department urged Americans on Monday not to travel to Germany as COVID-19 cases continue to rise dramatically, causing some German states to tighten restrictions and seek to enforce a vaccine mandate.

Germany's nationwide tally of newly confirmed COVID-19 cases climbed by 45,326 in the past 24 hours, the country's disease control agency announced Tuesday. They also reported 309 new COVID-19 deaths, making the total death count 99,433 since the beginning of the pandemic.

About 68 percent of Germany's 83 million population has been fully vaccinated but the government is aiming for 75 percent in order to ease restrictions. Many civilians have resisted the vaccine, causing authorities such as the country's health minister to lose patience with the situation.

"By the end of this winter pretty much everyone in Germany...will have been vaccinated, recovered or died," health minister Jens Spahn said Monday.

Some German states across the country have tightened restrictions for unvaccinated people and continue to urge them to get vaccinated. For some, they do not believe they should have the choice to get vaccinated or not.

An association representing doctors in Berlin said that coronavirus vaccines should be made mandatory for all.

"The time has come for a vaccine mandate," KV Berlin said in a statement on Tuesday, adding that unvaccinated people should also have to pay part of the cost of their treatment if they become ill with COVID-19.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Pfizer Vaccine
The U.S. State Department urged Americans on Monday not to travel to Germany as COVID-19 cases continue to rise dramatically. A person is vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine against the coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease at vaccination bus in Berlin, Germany on November 23. Kay Nietfeld/dpa/Associated Press

The German military is making coronavirus shots compulsory for troops amid a growing debate in the country about whether to introduce a general vaccine mandate to counter rising infection and hospitalization rates.

The Defense Ministry on Tuesday confirmed a report in the German military blog Augen Geradeaus that officials and soldiers' representatives agreed late Monday to add the coronavirus shot to the list of vaccines soldiers must get. The measure still needs to be formally added to military regulations, the ministry said in a statement.

There were 1,215 reported active coronavirus cases as of Monday within the military and the ministry's civilian staff. Two soldiers have died of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

Some politicians in Germany, including the conservative state governors of Bavaria and Hesse, have backed the idea of compulsory vaccinations. But a spokesman for outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel made clear Monday that she will leave that thorny issue to the next federal government.

In a rare interview, Merkel's husband, Joachim Sauer, expressed surprise and upset that so many people remained opposed to the vaccine in Germany, blaming it on German "laziness" and anti-vaccine ideology that crosses all levels of education.

Speaking to Italian daily La Repubblica, the 72-year-old chemist said it was "amazing that a third of the German population doesn't pay attention to science."

Asked how that could be explained, Sauer reportedly replied: "In part by a certain laziness and complacency among the German people."

"There has probably always been this attitude among some people, but it has never been so evident as in this period," La Repubblica quoted him as saying Tuesday. "And yet it's precisely now that we're living the great success of science."

Sauer was in Turin to receive a diploma as a new member of the Academy of Sciences.