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BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s health minister said Friday that the country may need to brink back a requirement for wearing face masks in public this autumn after lawmakers rejected a proposed coronavirus vaccine mandate.

Karl Lauterbach acknowledged that the Bundestag’s vote Thursday against requiring COVID-19 vaccination of people 60 and over was a personal setback for him. The bill was a watered-down compromise after some government lawmakers refused to back a vaccine mandate for all adults.

The vote was “a clear and bitter defeat for all those who advocate compulsory vaccinations,” said Lauterbach, adding that any wriggle room to further relax the rules “has been completely exhausted.”

Germany recently ended the requirement to wear masks in many indoor settings, though they are still compulsory on public transport.

Lauterbach also urged people to get tested for COVID-19 before traveling to visit relatives over the Easter vacation.

New infections in Germany are on a downward trajectory, with 175,263 additional confirmed cases reported in the past 24 hours — down from a recent peak of almost 300,000 a day. But there continued to be around 300 COVID-related deaths a day, he said.


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