In order to fight the fourth wave of COVID-19 infections in the country, Germany has announced it will introduce stricter restrictions for unvaccinated people.
The "2G" rules, approved by the federal and state governments, will apply to the retail sector, meaning that only vaccinated and recovered people can access stores. However, stores for essential items are to be excluded from this rule, reports said.
2G stands for "geimpft" (vaccinated) or "genesen" (recovered).
Meetings in public or private spaces with people who are not vaccinated or have not recently recovered from COVID-19 will be limited to one household plus a maximum of two people from another household.
Indoor clubs and discotheques are to be closed where regional seven-day incidence rates of over 350 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants are reported, the government said.
"Culture and leisure nationwide will be open only to those who have been vaccinated or recovered," she said. "We have understood that the situation is very serious and that we want to take further measures in addition to those already taken," she added.
Speaking after a meeting with federal and state leaders, Merkel said the measures were necessary in light of concerns that hospitals in Germany could become overloaded with people suffering COVID-19 infections, which are more likely to be serious in those who haven't been vaccinated.
"The situation is our country is serious," Merkel told reporters in Berlin, calling the measure an "act of national solidarity."
Is United Kingdom planning to impose similar restrictions?
Prime minister Boris Johnson's spokesman said there are no such plans as of now. He said the priority is to continue to promote vaccinations and boosters.
When asked if there could be separate lockdown-style restrictions for unvaccinated people, he said: "I think you can look back at the restrictions we've had previously and the fact that we've never introduced something along those lines. Our priority is to continue to promote vaccinations and promote boosters now that we are rolling out more and more boosters to more and more people."