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POLITICS

Should German public continue to pay for Covid-19 tests?

In a bid to stem the rise in Covid-19 infection rates, politicians are ramping up the pressure on those who have not yet been vaccinated. Two of the candidates to become the next chancellor of Germany -- Armin Laschet and Olaf Scholz -- want to see an end to free Covid tests for everybody from this autumn.

Should German public continue to pay for Covid-19 tests?
Only those who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 or who have recovered from it will be able to enter the FC Köln stadium soon. Rolf VENNENBERND / POOL / AFP

The CDU/CSU and SPD candidates for chancellor, Armin Laschet and Olaf Scholz, respectively, are both in favour of charging for coronavirus tests from autumn onwards, they told the Süddeutsche Zeitung on Sunday.

Scholz said: “It is important to me that those who do not want to be vaccinated continue to have the opportunity to take part in public life by taking a test.” However, the general public will not pay for these tests “in the long term”.

“I think that in autumn all adults without a health reason for not being vaccinated will have to pay for them,” he said.

Less than two months before the federal election, the two candidates have similar views on this key issue in dealing with the pandemic. On Tuesday, the premiers of Germany’s 16 federal states are due to meet to discuss how to deal with the country’s rising infection rates and concerns about a fourth wave.  

CDU president Armin Laschet told Sunday paper Bild am Sonntag earlier that he was against putting people who tested negative for the coronavirus at a disadvantage to those who had been vaccinated.

“The state must not exclude those who have been vaccinated, recovered or tested from participating in social life,” said Laschet. The “3-G rule” (geimpft, getestet, genesen or vaccinated, tested, recovered) has “proven to be sensible, measured and feasible”.

READ ALSO: German chancellor candidate Laschet loses favour with voters: poll

But from autumn onwards, anyone who has not been vaccinated should expect “that the daily tests will no longer be paid for by taxpayers”. However, Scholz said that “tested” should remain an option in addition to “vaccinated” and “recovered”.

Laschet’s party colleague, Union parliamentary group leader Ralph Brinkhaus, took a tougher line, telling Sunday paper Die Welt am Sonntag that he didn’t think unvaccinated people who had been tested would still be granted the same rights for much longer.

He thought this would work itself out naturally in the autumn “because hotels, clubs and event organisers will say: Sorry, if you’ve only got a test, you can’t come in “.

First-division German football club FC Köln is likely to fuel this debate because they have said they will only allow spectators who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 or who have recovered from the virus into the stadium from the end of August.

Brinkhaus said: “I think the pressure from the vaccinated part of the population will increase enormously. And that is completely understandable.”

However, not all parties agree. Stephan Thomae, FDP deputy chair, told the SZ: “Politicians shouldn’t just leave the decision to entrepreneurs and traders.”

He also said he thought it was a mistake to charge for Covid-19 tests as they were still too important in the fight against the pandemic to create any obstacles. Co-chair of the Green party Robert Habeck said on German TV channel ZDF that he was in favour of them staying free.

Scholz, Germany”s Vice-Chancellor, said he hoped that, thanks to the vaccinations, the country would get through the autumn and winter better this time.

“There shouldn’t be another lockdown,” he told the SZ, adding that face-to-face teaching in schools had “top priority”.

 

Member comments

  1. How about Covid vaccination charges? I got hit up for around about €250 by my doctor for me and my wife´s 2 visits to get vaccinated. Is this even legal? It´s supposed to be a Bundeswide free vaccination program. We are privately insured, but after entering the doctors bill the Health insurance assured me we have been wrongly charged and refused to pay….-

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POLITICS

‘Winter of rage’: Experts warn of riots in Germany due to rising energy costs

Experts are warning that economic hardship may lead to protests throughout Germany in autumn and winter - and that they could be infiltrated by right-wing extremists.

'Winter of rage': Experts warn of riots in Germany due to rising energy costs

In view of rising energy costs, supply difficulties, growing unemployment and general pessimism about the future, authorities in Germany are warning that there will be mass protests this year – and that these are likely to be abused by extremists.

The warnings come from civil servants from the federal offices for the Protection of the Constitution or Bundesverfassungsschutz – Germany’s watchdog for safeguarding free democracy at the federal level and in the 16 states.

Stephan Kramer, president of Thuringia’s Office for the Protection of the Constitution, told German broadcaster ZDF that, following the pandemic and the world events of recent months, there is a “highly emotionalised, aggressive, future-pessimistic mood” among the population, “whose trust in the state, its institutions and political actors is tainted by massive doubts”.

He expects that “legitimate protests” will be infiltrated by extremists, especially those from the so-called Querdenker (lateral thinking) scene and that it is likely that some will turn violent.

READ ALSO: How Germany is saving energy ahead of uncertain winter

“What we have experienced so far in the Covid pandemic in terms of partly violent confrontations on social networks, but also in the streets and squares, was probably more like a children’s birthday party in comparison,” Kramer said.

The head of Hamburg’s Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Torsten Voß, told the Funke Mediengruppe that he expects “extremist conspiracy ideologues and other enemies of the constitution” will try to abuse protests for their ideological purposes.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, he said “a spectrum of radical opponents of vaccination and so-called Covid deniers have built up a protest infrastructure, with contacts and channels for mobilisation”. This group will try to use this infrastructure for the energy security protests in the autumn, he said.

READ ALSO: German households could see ‘four-digit’ rise in energy costs this winter

Brandenburg’s head of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Jörg Müller, also fears that extremists could exploit the energy crisis and high inflation fears for their own purposes.

“Extremists dream of a German winter of rage” he told Welt am Sonntag. “They hope that the energy crisis and price increases will hit people particularly hard so that they can pick up on the mood and advertise their anti-state aspirations. We are following these goings-on with watchful eyes and open ears.”

Vocabulary:

Constitution – (die) Verfassung

Rage – (die) Wut

Violent – gewalttätig

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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