German lawmakers approved tighter Covid restrictions on Thursday, a day after the head of the national agency responsible for monitoring the pandemic warned of a “really bad Christmas” and said that the coronavirus had again become a countrywide emergency.
“Every man and mouse who can vaccinate should vaccinate now,” Lothar Wieler, the head of the agency, the Robert Koch Institute, said in a video discussion with the leader of Saxony, the German state with the highest infection rates.
“Otherwise,” Dr. Wieler added, “we will not get this crisis under control.”
The apparently off-the-cuff remarks by a normally composed scientist came as Germany posted yet another record in daily new infections. The agency on Wednesday reported more than 65,000 new cases — a 61 percent increase over two weeks earlier — and 264 deaths.
On Thursday, lawmakers in Parliament approved a bill whose measures include a rule that only people who are vaccinated against the virus, have recovered from an infection or test negative can ride public transit or attend work in person. Less than 70 percent of Germany’s population is fully vaccinated.
The new measures, proposed by the parties that are expected to replace Chancellor Angela Merkel in government, would also require employers to offer a work-from-home option when possible.
To come into force, the rules must also be approved by the leaders of Germany’s 16 states, a move that is expected to occur on Friday. Since proposing the bill early last week, the parties have tightened some of the proposals amid criticism that the measures were insufficient to curb the latest outbreak.
Ms. Merkel is scheduled to meet with state governors on Thursday afternoon to try to form a unified strategy and to discuss ways to increase the vaccination rate.