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Holiday travel discouraged in Germany amid new COVID restrictions


BERLIN —Visiting Germany’s fabled Christmas markets may have to wait until next year. 

The country’s incoming transport minister is advising people against traveling over Christmas as tries to stem a wave of coronavirus infections.

Volker Wissing, whose pro-business party has designated him as transport minister in the incoming government, told Sunday’s edition of the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that “in the current situation, it seems more sensible to spend Christmas in a small group at home and not to plan big trips across the country.”

“Winter 2021 will be more dramatic than winter 2020,” he added.

The CDC and U.S. State Department have already discouraged Americans from traveling to Germany due to “very high” levels of COVID-19. Travelers who still plan to go should check for embassy advisories and restrictions for each place they plan to visit.

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A couple visits the Christmas market in Dortmund, Germany, on Dec. 1, 2021.

Federal and state leaders in Germany on Thursday announced tough new restrictions that largely target unvaccinated people, preventing them from entering nonessential stores, restaurants, sports and cultural venues. In a longer-term move, parliament will consider a general vaccine mandate.

At least 68.9% of Germans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, short of the government’s aim of a minimum 75% vaccination rate. The shortfall has been blamed as a key factor in a surge of new virus cases in recent weeks.

►New COVID testing rules:Big changes for international travelers

Official figures suggest that the infection rate may now be stabilizing, but at too high a level. On Sunday, the national disease control center reported 42,055 new daily cases and a seven-day infection rate of 439.2 new cases per 100,000 residents. Another 94 deaths in 24 hours brought Germany’s confirmed total in the pandemic to 103,040.

Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel made a last direct appeal to Germans to get vaccinated on Saturday, saying that a resurgence in deaths is “so bitter because it is avoidable.”

Contributing: Eve Chen, USA TODAY

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