Germany

Germany, US plan new Covid-19 restrictions as Omicron spreads

With countries including the United States, India and France reporting their first Omicron cases, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said she hoped the pandemic would not completely stifle economic activity.

"There's a lot of uncertainty, but it could cause significant problems. We're still evaluating that," she told the Reuters Next conference.

The new measures in Germany focus on the unvaccinated, who will only be allowed in essential businesses such as grocery stores and pharmacies, while legislation to make vaccination mandatory will be drafted for early next year.

Merkel picks German punk singer Hagen for last serenade

 

At the event, Mrs Merkel urged the audience to "always see the world through the eyes of others".

The ceremonial tattoo, or Grosser Zapfenstreich, is now a tradition for departing political figures.

And after her 16 years as leader, the ceremony comes with a marching band and torchlight procession.

But what set German tongues wagging was the music she chose.

Mrs Merkel is a passionate music lover, but in her words "mostly classical music", and she's a regular visitor to the Bayreuth Festival, which showcases the work of composer Richard Wagner.

Cocaine 'worth billions' seized in record Germany and Belgium haul

German officials discovered 16 tonnes in five shipping containers that had arrived in the port of Hamburg from Paraguay earlier this month.

Police in the Netherlands were notified and a further 7.2 tonnes of cocaine was seized at the Belgian port of Antwerp.

German officials said the cocaine had a street value of billions of euros.

A 28-year-old man suspected of involvement in the trafficking of the drugs has been arrested in the Netherlands, Dutch police said on Wednesday.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny detained on arrival in Moscow

He flew from Berlin to Moscow, arriving in Russia for the first time since he was nearly killed by a nerve agent attack.

The activist says the authorities were behind the attempt on his life, an allegation backed up by investigative journalists but denied by the Kremlin.

Russia's FSIN prison authority confirmed that officers had detained him, the Interfax news agency reported.

Metal barriers were erected inside the airport, Vnukovo, and Russian media reported that several activists - including key Navalny ally Lyubov Sobol - had been detained there.

France and Germany cull more birds to contain bird flu outbreak

France is set to cull about 600,000 poultry birds as the virus spreads among duck flocks in the southwest of the country, the farm ministry said.

France is among European countries - including Britain and Germany - to have reported highly contagious strains of bird flu late last year, leading to mass culls as authorities try to limit transmission from wild birds to farm flocks.

France has already slaughtered about 200,000 poultry and plans to cull a further 400,000 birds, a farm ministry official said.

Germany to go into lockdown over Christmas

Non-essential shops will close across the country from Wednesday, as will schools, with children to be cared for at home wherever possible.

Chancellor Angela Merkel blamed Christmas shopping for a "considerable" rise in social contacts.

The latest figures showed 20,200 more infections and a further 321 deaths.

The new lockdown will run from 16 December to 10 January. Announcing the move after meeting leaders of the country's 16 states, Mrs Merkel said there was "an urgent need to take action".

Germany and France announce strict measures to stem spread of coronavirus

French President Emmanuel Macron announced an enforced lockdown, a step similar to curbs imposed by Italy and Spain, saying: "We're in a health war".

Mr Macron also said the European Union's external borders would be closed to travellers from Tuesday.

In Germany, most non-grocery shops and venues have been ordered to shut.

Chancellor Angela Merkel also banned religious services and told people to cancel any domestic or foreign holiday travel. Schools across the country have already been shut.

Eight dead after two attacks in Germany

At least five people were injured after gunmen opened fire at about 22:00 local time (21:00 GMT), police told the BBC.

Police added that they are searching for the suspects, who fled the scene and are currently at large.

The first shooting was at a bar in the city centre, while the second was in Hanau's Kesselstadt neighbourhood, according to local reports.

Police officers and helicopters are patrolling both areas.

Portugal the underdogs against France and Germany

The three heavyweights were drawn together in a tough-looking Group F for next year's tournament, with a play-off contestant still to be added.

France and Germany will enter as winners of the past two World Cups, while Portugal are preparing to defend the trophy they unexpectedly won in 2016.

Santos' side were also crowned inaugural Nations League champions in June but the wily 65-year-old coach quickly positioned his team as underdogs.

"It will be a strong group, two favourites and a candidate," Santos told reporters.

Germany will not bar Huawei from its 5G networks

The US has banned Huawei from selling 5G equipment to its telecoms companies, saying it contained back doors that would enable Chinese surveillance.

And the UK has promised a decision this autumn on whether the equipment-maker should be excluded from its 5G rollout.

Huawei welcomed Germany's "fact and standards based approach".

"Politicising cyber-security will only hinder technology development and social progress while doing nothing to address the security challenges all countries face," Huawei said.