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Germany set to follow Austria and make Covid jabs compulsory under incoming chancellor

Germany is set to follow Austria by making Covid jabs compulsory amid rising infections across Europe and fears of the Omicron variant taking hold.

Olaf Scholz, who will take over as German chancellor next week, is in favour of mandatory jabs and also wants to ban the unvaccinated from non-essential stores, sources said.

He hopes the moves could be enforced by the end of February and he met with regional leaders today with outgoing chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss how to respond to the ongoing fourth wave.  

Germany's incoming chancellor Olaf Scholz (pictured last week) is set to follow Austria by making Covid jabs compulsory

Neighbouring Austria, which like Germany has a relatively low rate of vaccination compared with the rest of western Europe, earlier this month announced plans to make vaccines compulsory as of February.

Scholz is also in favour of making non-essential stores require customers to show proof of vaccination or recovery. 

Meanwhile in Greece, anyone over the age of 60 that refuses to get a Covid jab will be fined £85 a month as the country prepares to launch their own vaccine mandate.

Greece's Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis today said coronavirus vaccines would be compulsory for over-60s, as he faces mounting calls for more restrictions to stem the spread of Covid-19. 

The measure is still to be put to a parliamentary vote, he said, but lawmakers are widely expected to approve it.

Greece's Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis (pictured) today said that coronavirus vaccines would be compulsory for anyone over the age of 60 - and that those who refuse will be handed £85 fines each month

More than 500,000 Greeks aged over-60 were still refusing to be vaccinated, Mitsotakis said.

Those still refusing to do so will face a monthly fine of 100 euros (£85), he added.

'This is protection, not punishment,' Mitsotakis said.

Vaccinations, tests and social distancing 'are the answer, not a lockdown'.

The government has resisted calls from health experts for additional safeguards and mobility restrictions, even among the vaccinated, ahead of the Christmas holiday season.

The virus has claimed over 18,000 lives in Greece, with the death rate sharply increasing in November.

According to Mitsotakis, more than 500,000 Greeks aged over-60 are still refusing to be vaccinated. Pictured: People queue in Aristotelous Square, Thessaloniki, on November 26, 2021, to receive their jab

Austria became the first country to enforce a Covid vaccine mandate earlier this month in a bid to stem a brutal wave of infections.

Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg and Health Minister Wolfgang Muckstein announced that anyone who is not vaccinated against Covid will be penalised - with Mr Schallenberg saying the punishment would likely be a non-criminal fine, though added the details are still being worked out.

Mr Muckstein said that constitutional lawyers were consulted ahead of the announcement and said it appears the mandate would be legal, though a 'proper review process' will take place over the next several months. 

Once the review is complete the law will be brought into force, with a deadline of February 1 'at the latest'.

The move by Greece comes after Austria announced its own vaccine mandate earlier this month. Pictured: Police officers check the vaccination status of visitors during a patrol on a Christmas market in Vienna on November 19, 2021

Austria currently has one of the highest Covid infection rates in western Europe which has been blamed on its sluggish vaccination drive, with just 66 per cent of people fully jabbed. 

That is above the European average of 62 per cent, but well below the 70 per cent theoretically needed for herd immunity.

Austria was not the first country to make vaccines mandatory. Indonesia required all adults to get jabbed back in February, followed by dictatorships Turkmenistan and Tajikistan in July. 

Dozens of other countries require specific groups to have jabs. Joe Biden's vaccine mandate requires workers at any US firm with more than 100 employees to get jabbed, or else test on a weekly basis.  

Germany's Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases reported that 452.2 people per 100,000 were infected in the last week, down slightly from 452.4 on Monday. 

It was the first decline since early November.

Despite this, the number of new daily cases rose slightly on Tuesday compared to last week to 45,753, and another 388 deaths were recorded - the highest daily figure since early March. That bought the overall death toll to 101,344.