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German leaders confer on COVID as omicron infections soar

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Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Germany’s 16 state governors will confer Monday to chart the country’s way forward in the coronavirus pandemic

BERLIN — Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Germany’s 16 state governors will confer Monday to chart the country’s way forward in the coronavirus pandemic, and are expected to prioritize the use of PCR tests for those most at risk as the omicron variant fuels a steep rise in infections.

On Jan. 7, Scholz and the governors agreed to toughen requirements for entry to restaurants and bars, and decided to shorten quarantine and self-isolation periods.

Scholz told the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung ahead of Monday’s meeting that “we don’t need a change of course.” He added that “it is in any case certainly not appropriate to loosen the rules broadly in the middle of the omicron wave.”

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Monday’s meeting is not expected to discuss in depth the question of a possible universal vaccination mandate, which Scholz supports but has left to parliament to come up with proposals for. Lawmakers are expected to hold a first debate on Wednesday, with various proposals being floated for a full or limited mandate, and one group opposing a mandate.

Although infections are rising fast, that hasn’t so far been accompanied by a big increase in hospital admissions. But officials worry that Germany has a high number of unvaccinated older people in comparison with some other European countries.

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Follow all AP stories on the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

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