Lawmakers voted on Friday to abolish most of Germany’s coronavirus pandemic restrictions despite a surge in cases with nearly 300,000 new cases daily.
The Bundestag approved an amendment to the pandemic rules in a vote of 388-277 with two abstentions. The upper house of parliament, made up of Germany’s 16 states, is expected to consider the measure later on Friday.
The changes mean the requirement to wear face masks will be lifted for most public places from Sunday, although they may still be required on public transport. Nursing home visitors will also continue to need negative COVID-19 tests, but they will no longer be required in other walks of life.
States can still impose new restrictions to curb outbreaks in “hot spots” of the virus, but governors have complained that such a measure is unfeasible given rising cases across the country.
The country’s disease control agency reported 297,845 new confirmed cases in the past 24 hours and 226 COVID-related deaths.
Health Minister Karl Lauterbach defended lifting the restrictions.
“We cannot continue to put the entire country under a shield to protect a small group of people who are not willing to get vaccinated,” he said. “The balance is being changed.”
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