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VACCINES

German cabinet approves decision to open up vaccines to all starting on Monday

Starting on Monday, coronavirus vaccinations will be available to everyone in Germany regardless of their priority group, according to an official government decision.

German cabinet approves decision to open up vaccines to all starting on Monday
A woman in Berlin receives a vaccine with Moderna on May 17th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Annette Riedl

Germany’s federal cabinet officially approved the decision on Wednesday, which Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) is set to announce. 

Currently priority groups 1-3, which include those over 60 and with pre-existing conditions, are eligible for one of four vaccines in Germany: Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. 

GPs can give the latter two vaccines to all adults who want one, although appointments can be hard to come by. 

But starting on June 7th through the new ‘Vaccination Ordinance’, all people over the age of 12 will be able to book an appointment for all four vaccines, either through a vaccine centre or with a doctor, be it a GP or specialist.

Vaccine drives are also planned around the country, including possibly at schools for pupils.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How can people in Germany get a Covid vaccine appointment?

More vaccines at work

The move is also set to make vaccinations of employees through their companies possible on a broad scale.

Germany’s Ministry of Health said last week that more than 6,000 company doctors had now placed an order for Covid-19 vaccinations.

They were to receive 702,000 doses of the vaccine from BioNtech/Pfizer in the second week of June – each a promised minimum of 102 doses.

According to Spahn on Wednesday, there have now been more than 50 million Covid-19 vaccinations carried out in Germany so far: 36.5 million (44 percent) have received at least a first jab, and 15.6 million (or 19 percent) have full protection. 

“We expect up to 25 million more vaccinations in June,” he wrote on Twitter. Previously Spahn predicted that 90 percent of those who want a vaccine would be able to have one by mid-July

Spahn went on to say that, in the future, the government also wants to ensure that a capacity of 600 million to 700 million vaccine doses are set aside for the event of future Covid outbreaks – both for use in Germany or other parts of the world. 

The government will place tenders with terms of five years. An annual reservation fee will be paid by the manufacturers to ensure production of the vaccine in the event that it’s needed.

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CULTURE

‘People liked the silence’: How Berlin’s club scene is struggling after lockdowns

Berlin's clubs are suffering from staff shortages, a lack of guests... and neighbours who've grown used to the silence, representatives for the scene say.

'People liked the silence': How Berlin's club scene is struggling after lockdowns

Some operators from Berlin’s club scene are bracing themselves for a difficult autumn. For months now, people have been allowed to dance again and life has returned to normal in the dark corners of Berlin’s famous nightlife scene.

But the clubs have far from recovered from the pandemic. They face staff shortages, rising prices and the prospect of a return to Covid restrictions in the autumn.

“We go into the autumn with huge fear, because the omens are totally unfavorable,” said association head Pamela Schobeß.

Spring and summer went anything but smoothly, she said. “There has been an oversupply of events. People aren’t going out as much, and some are still afraid to move around indoors.”

Money is also an issue. “A lot of people are afraid of rising energy prices.”

The industry lost workers during the pandemic and it’s hard to convince them to come back with the outlook for the autumn looking so gloomy, Schobeß says.

Her colleague Robin Schellenberg tells a similar story. People have switched to various other jobs and would even rather work on a supermarket checkout, which may have been considered less sexy in the past. Now, he says, some have learned to love not having to work nights.

READ ALSO: 

Schellenberg runs the Klunkerkranich, a small club on a parking garage deck in Neukölln. Because a number of things have become more expensive, they have also had to increase their admission prices.

His impression is that people are going out less often and are deciding more spontaneously. In addition, people in the neighborhood are now more sensitive to noise. “Many people found the silence very enticing,” he said.

Some in the industry wonder what will happen next. Will club admission have to become much more expensive? Will that exclude people who can no longer afford it? And what happens if Covid infection numbers rise sharply?

If masks become mandatory indoors in October, Schobeß believes that would be bad for the clubs. “Even if we don’t get shut down by the state, we’ll actually have to close down independently ourselves,” she reckons.

Masks take all the joy out of the experience, she says. People have drinks in their hands and are “jumping around and dancing” and then security guards have to tell them “please put your mask on.”

The federal government is considering whether states should be able to make masks mandatory indoors starting in October. Exceptions should be possible, such as at cultural and sporting events, for people who have been tested, recently vaccinated and recently recovered.

In the event that Covid numbers soar, the states could then be allowed to tighten the rules and eliminate all exemptions.

READ ALSO: German court declares techno to be music

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