German Foreign Minister joins calls to relax Covid rules for vaccinated people
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has became the latest politician to speak out in favour of lifting all Covid-19 restrictions as soon as everyone in Germany has received a vaccination offer.
"If everyone in Germany has been offered a vaccination, there is no longer any legal or political justification for any restriction," Maas told the German Press Agency (DPA) and the Süddeutsche Zeitung on Tuesday morning.
"This is to be expected sometime during August."
His comments follow those of the chairman of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, Andreas Gassen, who spoke to reporters on Monday to advocate for the lifting of restrictions on the inoculated.
“By September at the latest, a vaccination offer will be available for everyone who wants to be vaccinated, then almost all corona measures will have to go,” he told Bild.
"Everyone can then decide individually whether he or she wants to continue wearing a mask - but it should no longer be an obligation."
Chancellor Angela Merkel has promised that everyone in Germany should receive a vaccination offer by September 21st this year.
However, with the inoculation drive continuing to gather momentum, Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) now believes this could happen as early as the end of July.
Lifting of restrictions 'constitutionally mandatory'
Maas started calling for eased restrictions on vaccinated people way back in January - when the number of people who'd received jab was still in the low single-digits.
"Vaccinated people should be able to exercise their basic rights again," the Social Democratic Party (SPD) politician said at the time.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) speaks at a press conference in Spain in July 5th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/AP | Paul White
In the first month of the year, the third wave had not yet reached its peak, but Germany was battling with a 7-day incidence of Covid infections of almost 100 per 100,000 residents.
It was also unclear at the time whether vaccinated people could spread Covid infections to others - which caused Maas' critics to brand the idea "populist" and "not thought-through".
However, the former Justice Secretary argued that if restaurants and cinemas were only filled with immunised people, they would be unable to harm each other, since vaccinations generally protect against severe causes of Covid.
"Yes, [the step] will lead to inequalities in the interim, but as long as there is an objective reason for it, it is constitutionally justifiable," he said.
But amid falling infection rates and a rising proportion of vaccinated people, the legal policy spokesman for the governing Christian Democratic Union and Christian Social Union parties, Jan-Marco Luczak, has now joined Maas' calls for relaxed rules.
"The lifting of protective measures is constitutionally mandatory," he told Welt.
"The previous measures were correct and necessary to get the pandemic under control - but if harming yourself and others is near to impossible scientifically, there is no longer any room for restrictions."
Interventions in the basic rights of people require a legal justification, which is missing if there is no longer any risk of infection, he explained.
The deputy chairman of the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FPD), Wolfgang Kubicki, is also calling for Covid restrictions be lifted soon.
"At the latest as soon as all those willing to get vaccinated have received a vaccination, the measures must be lifted," Kubicki said.
“The federal government says that this will be the case by the end of summer. Anything else would mean continuing the restrictions on fundamental rights indefinitely. "
7-day incidence sinks below 5
As of Tuesday, the nationwide 7-day incidence of Covid infections was 4.9 per 100,000 residents.
However, politicians continue to be concerned about the highly infection Delta variant, which experts believe could account for as many as half of all new infections in Germany.
The country will have to vaccinate between 85 and 90 percent of the population in order to combat Delta, the Robert Koch Institute revealed on Monday.
At present, 56.5 percent of people in Germany have received at least one jab, while 38.9 percent were fully vaccinated.
With fears around Delta growing, Kordula Schulz-Asche, the Green Party's health specialist, has spoken out against a general exemption from the restrictions.
The decision must be based on the current Corona situation, and the Delta variant is "worrying", he said.