German doctors warn against plan to ease Covid restrictions for vaccinated people

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German doctors warn against plan to ease Covid restrictions for vaccinated people
A patient being vaccinated against Covid-19 in Düsseldorf on May 3rd. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Federico Gambarini

Should people who have been fully inoculated against coronavirus face fewer restrictions than others? Germany is set to bring in nationwide rules on vaccine rights - but they are dividing the country.


Several federal states have already started relaxing restrictions for vaccinated people and those who have recovered from Covid-19. But the German government is trying to push through nationwide uniform rules this week.

But in view of the upcoming changes, medical experts and police say there is still uncertainty and unanswered questions.

Part of the plans would see Germany ease testing rules for people who've had both their jabs. Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) has said that in future, when entering Germany, a complete vaccination certificate would be sufficient instead of a test.

Doctors, however, are calling for people who have been vaccinated to still be tested for Covid-19 after travel.


Head of the Federal Association of Doctors in the Public Health Service, Ute Teichert, told the Funke media group: "Vaccinated people absolutely have to continue to be tested. It would be fatal if vaccinated people and people who've recovered were exempt from all test obligations, for example when entering the country."

She said Germany would then lose an important overview of the infection dynamics.

"Without comprehensive tests, we lose track of what is happening with the infection - especially with regard to virus variants," said Teichert.

She also slammed the government for introducing the plan before uniform proof of vaccination status was available.

"Politicians must not take the second step before the first: Before there is nationwide relief for vaccinated people, a uniform certificate must be introduced as proof of vaccination," Teichert said. The certificate must be available digitally and in paper form and it must be absolutely forgery-proof, she added. 

As The Local has been reporting, the German government planned to bring in freedoms for people who are immune to Covid at the end of May. But after states began implementing regulations immediately, the proposals were brought forward.

The regulation will likely be decided on Thursday in the Bundestag, and if the Bundesrat, which represents the federal states, gives it the green light on Friday, changes could come into force as early as the weekend.

IN DETAIL: These are Germany’s planned new freedoms for vaccinated people

Yet there are questions over how it will be checked.

The Police Union (GdP) has also demanded forgery-proof documents that vaccinated and Covid-recovered people could show during controls.

The deputy chairman of the GdP, Jörg Radek, told broadcaster ARD that it must be clear which papers people have to carry with them.

Meanwhile, Thuringia's state leader Bodo Ramelow (the Left party) said the government's plans were unclear.

"I still do not know what exactly the federal legislature actually wants to regulate," Ramelow told the Rheinische Post.

The current debate is causing a lot of confusion in society, he added.


What are the proposals?

About 28 percent of people in Germany have now received at least one coronavirus jab, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) said. So far, eight percent of the population have been fully inoculated.

Under the plans, people who've been fully vaccinated, and those who have recovered from Covid-19, would not have to adhere to curfew rules and contact restrictions would no longer apply.

These groups would not face the same strict testing obligations as others. They would be allowed to go to shops, zoos or the hairdresser without a negative test result, for example.


They would also not have to quarantine after travel unless they were coming from a virus variant area.

The obligation to wear a mask in certain places as well as the distance requirement in public spaces would continue to apply to everyone.

The government coalition, made up of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and the SPD, agreed on a draft paper from Federal Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) on Monday.


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