Germany is set to announce new coronavirus restrictions for unvaccinated citizens.
According to a leaked document seen by the Reuters news agency, new measures will mean those who have not been vaccinated will be banned from taking part in some public events in areas with high rates of COVID hospitalisations.
National and regional leaders meeting on Thursday agreed the measure as part of their response to the fourth wave of the pandemic that is raging in Germany and across Europe.
According to the report, in places where hospitalisation rates exceed a certain threshold, access to public, cultural and sporting events and to restaurants will be restricted to those who have been vaccinated or who have recovered.
Saxony, the region hardest hit by the fourth wave, is already considering a partial lockdown, including closing theatres, concerts and soccer games, Bild newspaper reported.
Vaccinations have picked up in Germany, which has a history of vaccine resistance, although largely due to uptake of booster shots as more indoor gatherings due to colder weather.
WATCH: Austria imposes lockdown for the unvaccinated
Germany reported 52,826 new infections on Wednesday - a jump of a third from a week ago and another daily record, while 294 people died, bringing the total to 98,274, as the pandemic tightens its grip across Europe.
It comes after Merkel warned its coronavirus situation was dramatic and called for an extra push on vaccinations to curb a fourth wave of the virus.
She appealed to vaccine-skeptics to change their minds and called for a speedier distribution of booster shots.
"If enough people get vaccinated that is the way out of the pandemic," Merkel said.
Only 68% of people in Europe's most populous country are fully vaccinated – lower than the average in western Europe due to a tradition of vaccine hesitancy, while 5% of the population has had a booster shot.
Several German regions, including the capital Berlin, have already introduced rules that, in effect, exclude non-vaccinated people from places such as cinemas, hairdressers, restaurants and fitness studios.
Berlin is also considering requiring negative tests and proof of vaccination from next week.
It is not clear who should be responsible for policing the new rules. Berlin mayor Michael Mueller called on city officials to check vaccine passports rather than issue parking tickets.
"It isn't a matter of illegal parking but human lives," he was quoted as saying in the Berliner Zeitung daily.
European countries tighten COVID-19 rules
On Monday, Austria entered a lockdown for people not vaccinated. The conservative-led government said that around two million people in the country of roughly nine million are only allowed to leave their homes for a limited number of reasons.
The aim is to counter a surge in infections to record levels fuelled by a full vaccination rate of only around 65% of the population, one of the lowest in western Europe.
Austria is among the hardest-hit by Europe's fourth wave of infections. The two hardest hit regions – Salzburg and Upper Austria – have already announced they plan to go into full lockdown next week.
Slovakia could also impose lockdown rules on unvaccinated citizens following a spike in cases.
Prime minister Eduard Heger announced that services will be limited in the country for anyone who has not had a COVID vaccine.