Incoming German transport minister advises against Christmas travel amid COVID-19 wave

The incoming German transport minister is recommending that people do not travel during the Christmas holiday because of an uptick in COVID-19 cases.

“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,” Volker Wissing told the Sunday edition of the Bild am Sontag newspaper, according to The Associated Press.

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

ADVERTISEMENT

The official’s comments come as Germany is seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases, with more than 397,000 new cases in the past week, according to Johns Hopkins University. The emergence of new variants have been in-part blamed for the recent increase in cases, according to the AP.

Two cases of the new omicron variant were detected in Germany last month.

The country implemented new restrictions on Thursday that will affect individuals who are unvaccinated. Those who have not received their shot will not be allowed to enter nonessential public places, including restaurants, shops, bars or events, unless they recently recovered from a case of COVID-19.

Unvaccinated individuals will, however, be permitted to enter essential stores, including supermarkets and pharmacies.

Parliament is also looking into potentially instituting a vaccine mandate, according to the AP.

At least 68.9 percent of Germany’s population are fully inoculated against COVID-19, according to the AP. That statistic, however, is lower than the target 75 percent vaccination rate that the government is aiming for.

Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel pleaded with individuals in her country to get inoculated against COVID-19, saying an uptick in deaths is "so bitter. because it is avoidable," according to the AP.

Wissing will serve as transport minister when his pro-business party takes power on Wednesday. The three parties that are supposed to form the government still have to approve their coalition agreement, and Chancellor-designate Olar Scholz still must secure backing from a majority of parliament, according to the AP.