BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany will not shut schools and non-essential businesses again if the COVID-19 infection rate rises again later this year but protective masks would play a bigger role, Chancellor Olaf Scholz told broadcaster ARD on Sunday.

The infection rate in Germany has been on the rise for the past month, reaching close to 700 new cases per 100,000 residents this week, after falling below 200 in late May, but Scholz said that vaccinations should help limit what measures will be needed to curb the spread of the virus.

“There should not be school closures again, and I also don’t think that we will need the kind of lockdowns we had several times in the last couple of years,” he told ARD in an interview.

“But I believe that you can expect that masks will play a bigger role again in the autumn and winter than they do now,” he added.

Scholz, who has so far not been infected with COVID-19, said he would recommend that anyone over 60 years of age should seek a fourth shot of COVID-19 vaccine, as he had.

“Maybe the fact that I have been vaccinated four times is the reason that it (an infection) hasn’t happened,” he said.

(Reporting by Sarah Marsh; Writing by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Ludwig Burger)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.

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