Germany’s Bundestag — the lower house of parliament — Thursday approved new COVID-19 countermeasures the day after the Germany’s Robert Koch Institute for Disease Control and prevention (RKI) warned of a “terrible Christmas” if new counter measures are not put in place.

The Bundestag, led by votes from what is likely Germany’s new ruling coalition, the Social Democrats, the Green Party, and the Free Democratic Party, approved new rules include requiring people to show proof of full vaccination or recovery or a valid negative COVID-19 test for workplaces and on public transport.

The new parliament did not extend the existing rules under the “epidemic situation of national concern” introduced in March 2020, which allowed Germany’s federal government to take nationwide action such as imposing travel restrictions. The rules expire November 25. German Chancellor Angela Merkel had urged for them to be extended.

Merkel is serving as chancellor in a care-taker capacity until the new ruling coalition is officially formed. The new rules must still be approved by the Bundesrat, the upper house of parliament.

The action comes as RKI reported 65,371 new cases Thursday, the first time it reported more than 60,000 since the pandemic began. The institute also reported a nationwide, seven-day infection rate of 336 cases per 100,000 people.

Speaking in a virtual call with the governor of the German state of Saxony late Wednesday, RKI President Lothar Wieler said those numbers could actually be much higher, as the under-reporting of cases has been increasing. Saxony is currently considered the epicenter of Germany’s COVID-19 surge, with an infection rate of 761 per 100,000 people.

He called for new countermeasures immediately, such as the closing of clubs and bars, saying if steps are not taken, “we will have a really bad Christmas.” 

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.

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