Germany considers tougher rules for the unvaccinated in autumn – but ‘drastic lockdown unlikely’

The German Health Ministry wants to continue Covid restrictions throughout autumn and winter, and may push for tighter rules for the unvaccinated - but politicians aren't predicting a strict lockdown.

Germany considers tougher rules for the unvaccinated in autumn - but 'drastic lockdown unlikely'
Visitors enjoy a concert at the Steinwerder Cruise Center on July 13th. The German Health Ministry is said to want events such as this to close to unvaccinated people if infection rates rise significantly. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Georg Wendt

The proposals were revealed in a report obtained by DPA, in which government health officials set out their vision for the coming months.

Looking ahead to a potentially difficult autumn and winter, ministers allegedly argued that continued measures were needed “in order to protect the health system from excessive strain and to shield the groups of people who cannot yet be vaccinated from a potentially serious illness”.

However, due to a relatively high number of vaccinated people in Germany, people are unlikely to face the kinds of restrictions they saw in 2020 and the early months of 2021, according to the Ministry’s report . 

“A drastic lockdown like the ones we saw in the second and third waves will in all probability not be necessary,” they wrote. 

“A fourth wave of Covid infections has begun, albeit still at a low level. In addition to the increased influx of infections by people returning from travel, people are behaving almost the same as they were in the times before the pandemic.”

On Wednesday 3,571 Covid cases were reported within the last 24 hours in Germany, and 25 deaths. The 7-day incidence rose slightly to 18.5 cases per 100,000 people.

READ ALSO: Covid infection rate in Germany goes up – but vaccines having an impact

‘3G rule’ to remain – but could be tightened

In particular, the Health Ministry is said to be calling for a continuation of the ‘3G’ rule (geimpft, genesen, getestet), which dictates that people should be either vaccinated (geimpft), recovered (genesen) or tested for Covid (getestet) in order enter certain premises or take part in certain events.

Indoor catering, hotel accommodation, services that require close physical contact (i.e. hairdressing and beauty treatments), sports events, and large indoor and outdoor events were named as examples in the report, according to German daily Welt.

READ ALSO: Should Germany bring in Covid restrictions for unvaccinated people only?

Regardless of infection rates, the Health Ministry is believed to want the 3G rule to continue until at least early or mid-September. 

If infection rates go up significantly, however, the rules could be tightened further, meaning that only recovered or vaccinated people – rather than those with a negative test – would be allowed to visit the likes of hotels, restaurants, beauticians or large public events.  

Mask-wearing ‘should continue until at least 2022’

According to media reports, the Health Ministry is also pushing for a stringent continuation of mask-wearing and social distancing rules until the early months of 2022. 

The three basic rules – hygiene, distance and mask-wearing – should be followed at all times when groups of people are gathered in enclosed spaces, ministers reportedly said in the plans. This is especially important when the vaccination status of attendees is unknown or when vulnerable people are present, they said.

READ ALSO: German investigators slam Covid sceptics for bringing children to demos

The report from the Health Ministry was sent to state leaders and the federal parliament in advance of a crunch meeting later this month. 

On August 10th, Chancellor Angela Merkel with meet with the state premiers in each of the German states to thrash out measures to combat the fourth wave.

The latest figures show 53 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, and 62 percent have had at least one jab.  

Member comments

  1. but isnt it stupid when a vaccinated person can still spread the virus? whats the logic? i don’t get it honestly

    1. It is smart to get vaccinated and statistics are showing this. Depending on the vaccine and the variant, there is a high level of protection against serious disease and death, and reduced chance of passing on the virus. Better still, if we all get vaccinated, use masks and socially distance, there is an excellent chance life can return to something approaching normal relatively soon. Read The Local, which reports:

      According to the RKI, the majority of Covid cases recorded since February were among non-vaccinated people.
      The RKI estimates vaccine effectiveness at around 88 percent for people between 18 and 59 years of age and at around 87 per cent for the group over 60.
      “According to current knowledge, all vaccines currently available in Germany effectively protect against disease caused by the two main circulating VOCs (variants of concern), Delta and Alpha, when fully vaccinated,” said the RKI. Experts said data shows after receiving only one of two vaccine doses, the protective effect against Delta is “slightly reduced compared to Alpha”.
      Experts have urged people to get themselves fully vaccinated as soon as possible.
      The RKI said it is “strongly recommended to take advantage of the offers for vaccination against Covid-19 now”.

      This about covers it. Get vaccinated.

        1. Written, researched and targeted at your question only. Plenty of other good journalism here to back it up, of course.

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Bavaria pushes for stricter Covid regulations in autumn

Health ministers across Germany's 16 states are debating the government's new Covid plan - and politicians in Bavaria say they want more clarity.

Bavaria pushes for stricter Covid regulations in autumn

On Tuesday, federal and state health ministers planned to discuss the Covid protection proposals for autumn and winter presented last week by Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) and Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP).

However, some states and politicians are not satisfied with the plans. 

Under the proposals, masks will remain mandatory in air and long-distance transport, as well as clinics, nationwide. But federal states will be able to choose themselves whether to introduce further measures like mandatory masks on public and regional transport.

States will also have the power to take tougher Covid measures if the situation calls for it, such as mandatory masks indoors, but lockdowns and school closures have been ruled out. 

READ ALSO Masks and no lockdowns: Germany’s new Covid plan from autumn to Easter

The draft law states that there can be exceptions from wearing masks in indoor spaces, such as restaurants, for recently Covid-vaccinated or recovered people. 

But Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek (CSU) told DPA that these planned exemptions were not justified because vaccinated and recovered people can still transmit infections. “There are clear gaps in the current draft law,” said the CSU politician.

Dominik Spitzer, health policy spokesman for the FDP parliamentary group in the Bavarian state parliament, also questioned this exception, saying the rules “simply made no sense”.

“With the current virus variant, that would be impossible to convey, since even vaccinated people can continue to carry the virus,” the FDP politician told Bavarian broadcaster BR24. 

The coalition government’s graduated plan under the new Infection Protection Act, is set to be in force from October 1st until April 7th next year. 

The powers for the states are a first step, “but they do not go far enough for us”, Holetschek added, while calling for some points to be tightened up. “We need strong guidelines for autumn and winter.”

Holetschek said the government needed to tighten up the criteria with which states can adopt and enforce more effective measures to protect against the spread of Covid-19.

READ ALSO: Could Germany see a ‘patchwork’ of Covid rules?

Meanwhile, CDU health politician Erwin Rüddel said Germany was on the “wrong track” and the country should find “a completely different approach” to Covid policy than it has so far.

He accused the coalition government of being in “panic mode” and said he doubted the Bundestag would pass the proposals.

“I believe, there will be significant changes (to the draft)”, he said.

But the chairperson of the doctors’ association Marburger Bund, Susanne Johna, backed the plans.

“The proposal for the new Infection Protection Act gives the states sufficient possibilities to react adequately to the infection situation,” Johna told the Rheinische Post on Tuesday.

“The states can take regionally adapted measures to protect people if the need arises. I can’t understand why this concept is being called into question right away.”