Should Germany bring in Covid restrictions for unvaccinated people only?

Should Germany bring in Covid restrictions for unvaccinated people only?
People enjoying a family festival in Frankfurt at the weekend. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Rumpenhorst
The Delta variant of Covid-19 is fuelling a rise in infections in Germany. Will new restrictions be introduced? And if so, who will they affect?

What’s happening?

As Germany grapples with rising Covid infection rates, a fresh debate has been sparked over possible new curbs – and who they should apply to. But the country is already deeply divided on the issue. 

Although German authorities have insisted there are no plans to bring in compulsory vaccinations, we’ve already seen signs that the country will come down harder on people who choose not to get their jabs. Politicians said earlier this month they would not rule out charging unvaccinated people for Covid tests for future

But the topic moved further at the weekend when Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff Helge Braun said that if infection rates in Germany become too high, people who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 may be the only ones allowed to enter restaurants, cinemas or stadiums.

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”In the event of a high infection rate despite testing, unvaccinated people would have to reduce their contacts,” he said.

“That could also mean that certain things, such as visiting restaurants, cinemas and stadiums, would no longer be possible even for unvaccinated people who have been tested because the residual risk is too high,” he said, adding that this would be permitted by law.

READ ALSO: Unvaccinated could face restrictions this autumn, says top German official

On Monday Germany reported 958 new Covid cases within the last 24 hours, and three deaths. The incidence rate climbed to 14.3 infections per 100,000 people within seven days. It has been steadily rising for the last few weeks from the lowest point of 4.9 cases per 100,000 people on July 6th.

Who’s for it?

As you can imagine, the reaction is mixed. Ordering parts of the population to follow rules is controversial and would be difficult to check. The aim is to encourage people to get vaccinated.

“This is not discrimination against the unvaccinated,” said Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) in an interview with RTL/ntv.

He said that he respects a person’s decision not to get vaccinated. 

“But the person who has not been vaccinated must also realise that we have to protect society as a whole and therefore can only allow those who have been vaccinated to attend major community events,” Seehofer said. 

Seehofer, however, spoke out against mandatory vaccines in Germany.

“We have to convince people to get vaccinated,” he said. Seehofer added that being inoculated should not be made a prerequisite for things like employment or for signing an insurance contract. “We must not start that in Germany,” he added. 

A mobile vaccination van near a football stadium in Bremen on Saturday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Carmen Jaspersen

The president of the World Medical Association, Frank Ulrich Montgomery said he’s in favour of allowing vaccinated people more freedom in everyday life.

There is no reason to continue depriving vaccinated and immune people of their basic rights “just because a few eternal sceptics are opposed to vaccination”, Montgomery told the newspapers of the Funke Mediengruppe.

“Helge Braun is absolutely right. After all, it’s not about privileges for vaccinated people, but about restrictions on fundamental rights.”

FACT CHECK: Will Germany’s Covid incidence really reach 800 by October?

Who’s against it?

Conservative candidate chancellor Armin Laschet spoke out against this move. “I don’t think anything of compulsory vaccination and I don’t think anything of indirectly putting pressure on people to get vaccinated,” he told broadcaster ZDF.

The Left Party’s Janine Wissler, also opposed Braun’s proposal. She said threatening people who have not yet been vaccinated with disadvantages is the wrong way to go, especially since there are still is no recommendations for some groups – such as pregnant women and those under 12 – to get vaccinated. 

The opposition Free Democrats (FDP) also slammed the idea. FDP’s Wolfgang Kubicki described Braun’s proposal on Sunday as “introducing compulsory vaccination through the back door” and “clearly unconstitutional”.

But medical expert Montgomery hit back: “Only by vaccinating can we all regain our freedoms. The FDP – the supposed party of freedom – should also understand that.”

Will there be new lockdown measures?

Health Minister Jens Spahn recently said he did not expect tough measures to be introduced in Germany for vaccinated people as long as there are no mutations that impact protection from vaccines. 

But with rising Covid rates, people in Germany are worried that their lives will be impacted severely again. Germany was in a state of shutdown from November 2020 to May this year. 

The German Hotel and Restaurant Association (DEHOGA) called on the government to develop new decision-making criteria for assessing the infection situation.

“Massive restrictions for society as well as for the economy can no longer be justified on the basis of high incidences alone,” chief executive Ingrid Hartges told the Funke Mediengruppe on Monday.

Other factors, such as the vaccination rate, the development of the course of the disease, the hospitalisation rate and the mortality rate, have to be taken into account, she said – ideally nationwide. 

The government has signalled that it will take other factors into account when deciding on curbs in future.

Over the weekend, some German regional leaders said they wanted to hold crunch talks on the Covid situation earlier than planned. The meeting is scheduled for the end of August but Chancellor Merkel said last week she was open to holding it earlier. 

Anything else on the table?

There is generally no taste in Germany for following other countries, such as France, and bringing compulsory vaccinations for groups of the population – like healthcare workers.

“I don’t think this is the right way to go in Germany, but it’s clear that we have to act,” FDP party leader Christian Lindner said on Monday, referring to the “rising, but not yet threatening” Covid case numbers. Lindner instead called for a continuation of the testing strategy.

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“Test-based opening concepts have already proven their worth in the past during the last waves,” the FDP leader stressed. These are “a way for us to keep social life open in the fall as numbers rise.” There must be a “political guarantee” that a new lockdown will be ruled out, Lindner demanded.

He also suggested expanding the use of mobile vaccination teams and reassessing the pandemic.

“The focus on incidence, as we are currently experiencing again in the public debate, has not been convincing for a long time,” he said.


Member comments

  1. Mobile centres to bring immunisation to where people are will help a lot – and that needs a lot of Johnson & Johnson doses, so anybody going in is done. And they need an answer for pregnant Women, Children under 12, & people who cannot be immunised because of a Medical condition.

    But all this “You can’t take freedom from people who refuse to be immunised” posturing riles me. It’s not like anyone is saying they cannot get food, a job, or housing if they refuse, but those people are restricting or stopping freedoms for people who HAVE been immunised, mostly in the freetime entertainment areas. Freedom restrictions cut both ways so I’m fully for penalties for refusers. Or should we also say that someone who refuses to take a Driving Test should be allowed to drive anyway, because that also restricts their freedom?

  2. “The essence of propaganda consists in winning people over to an idea so sincerely, so vitally, that in the end they succumb to it utterly and can never escape from it.” Goebbels (Minister of Propaganda and National Enlightenment, Nazi Germany)

    I am so sick of this topic. I can’t believe people are so blinded by media, and so threatened that they don’t realize all the evilness of this situation, all the manipulation that goes on. History repeats itself. I’ve never thought discrimination can come to such a level.
    Vaccination doesn’t prevent a person from getting sick, neither from transmitting the virus. Countries with the biggest vaccination rates now see the next curve. Moreover, the current vaccine doesn’t prevent getting Delta variant.
    Why should I give away my health (and that’s the damage of vaccine, just do a bit of research!) and my freedom of choice to fund big pharma and government?
    Censorship on this topic is so high, that you need to look for objective information, but people choose blindly to follow the rules.
    If you believe the vaccine will help you, why do you care if other people get it or not? Where is your logic? You are protected, aren’t you?
    I don’t care what people decide to put into their bodies. But I am for free choice. And that is being taken away.

  3. sure sure dont forget to put some kinds of labels on unvaccinated people too, seize their property and put them inside camps. right? i knew govts would resort to this kind of disgusting discrimination once +50% would get vaccinated. also, how do u want to achieve herd immunity if the vaccine protection only lasts about half a year, whats even more ridiculous is that unvaccinated people pose a threat to vaccinated people 😀 plain retarded.

    1. oh look a nazi comparison from yet another uninformed moron. They’re talking about you not being allowed in restaurants until it is safe to do so you krass arsehole as for your “points”:

      1. the unvaccinated people have the choice to protect themselves and society by accepting a vaccination proven to be safe and effective. They are not being robbed of their rights and property and forced into labour camps where they will be tortured and murdered due to the religion they were born into.

      2. we do not yet know conclusively how long immunity persists and what schedule of boosters could be required to maintain a healthy level of immunity for long enough periods of time that we can bring this pandemic under control. This is not a one stage process, get that through your head. Herd immunity takes YEARS to properly build especially when the disease is highly mutagenic and spreading world wide in a world where international travel and distribution is easier than at any point in history. Diseases like measles and polio took decades to reduce to levels where herd immunity was secure and currently pose threat of resurgence due to antivaxxers believing vaccine cause autism because a struck off doctor was paid to say they did in a horrible paper, immediately disowned by his co-authors that made these claims despite no serological proof from a tiny sample size of 12 kids.

      3. You ARE a danger to the vaccinated when unvaccinated because you are a viral reservoir which is momentarily far too big. this is mitigated by vaccination because it enables the immune system to remove the virus far more quickly, limiting its replication cycles and the potential for that person to be highly infectious for long enough periods to infect others. But while the virus has plenty of unvaccinated hosts to infect, it replicates and transmits far far more – increasing the chance of a dangerous mutation arising. Viruses mutate constantly due to the nature of their parasitic replication cycle and lack of genomic safeguards found in eukaryotic cells, most are self limiting and disappear. BUT when the numbers go up so does the probability of an effective mutant arising – if it is resistant to vaccinations then EVERYONE IN THE WORLD is suddenly once again at risk and welcome back to lockdowns, the search for vaccines and politicisation of this crisis resulting in a catastrophic failure to act positively
      !
      It is a simple choice – get vaccinated or if you are not willing to do your bit for society then stop demanding that you can rejoin it. Why should we feel bad? You are given the vaccine for free, you have mountains of evidence proving it works and is safe. This is not a question of privilege, it is little more than box ticking given how little effort you need to put in to rejoining society.

      If you choose to ignore all of that and believe “blah blah conspiracy 5G big pharma government control blah” then you are the embodiment of the Dunning-Kruger effect i.e. the theory that highly incompetent people are extremely likely to overestimate their own capabilities and intelligence.

      simply put, you are too stupid to recognise just how ridiculously stupid you are.

      Tolerance is evaporating for this level of ignorance among people bright enough to realise what a danger this poses, so don’t expect much sympathy from the vaccinated for failing to do even the simplest thing to protect yourself and those around you.

  4. Must have the same behavioural psychologists in the advisory group spouting out the fear 24/7 just like the UK. This was written about in a Rockefeller Foundation paper in 2010. How to change people’s behavour it talked about fear etc.

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