National 2G rules would be mistake, top German virologists warn

Two prominent virologists said on Saturday that Germany should reintroduce free testing for all rather than restrict access to venues to only vaccinated people.

Bonn virologist Hendrick Streeck
Hendrick Streeck. Photo: dpa | Oliver Berg

Allowing only vaccinated and recovered people to enter venues, a system known as 2G, would give people a “false sense of security,” Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit, a virologist at Hamburg University, told Deutschlandfunk radio on Saturday.

He said that vaccinated people could become infected and transmit the virus, even if the probability was lower than with unvaccinated people.

Schmidt-Chanasit said that the only secure option is a 1G system – that is to test everyone, whether vaccinated, unvaccinated or recovered. 

He warned the government against abandoning testing, saying that Germany instead needed a “test offensive.” He also criticized the fact that free rapid testing had been abolished in mid-October.

Hendrik Streeck, head of virology at Bonn University, also said that the 2G rule was fraught with problems.

“The vaccinated have the feeling they are no longer part of the pandemic and behave accordingly,” Streeck told Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND) on Saturday.

“The second problem is the unvaccinated, who will be excluded and are thus even less likely to get tested.”

“If unvaccinated people are not allowed to participate in social life, they may organize parties at home. Then, chains of infection can no longer be controlled at all,” he warned.

Streeck also called for the reintroduction of free Corona tests.

Saxony became the first German state to announce on Friday that it would introduce 2G rules for venues such as restaurants and bars.

Meanwhile, Austria decided on Friday to introduce a nationwide 2G rule. People without vaccination or proof of recovery will no longer be allowed to visit pubs, hairdressers and events from Monday.

Several politicians and heads of medical organisations have called for nationwide 2G rules in Germany.

READ MORE: Calls grow for Germany to bring in national restrictions for unvaccinated

Member comments

  1. I can see his point – I wish more people would get vaccinated, but regular testing for all seems to be a sensible alternative.

  2. Perhaps I am missing some context here, but a 1G rule would be disastrous. I have yet to see any proof beyond speculative correlation that the huge amount spent on rapid tests this last summer did anything to help. Numbers fell across the board in numerous countries, all of which had no free rapid test program. Germanys huge issue currently is being driven by low vaccination numbers, and something should be done to correct this problem.
    A national 2G campaign that reminds people we are in the midst of a huge infection explosion is what is needed IMO.

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Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

German health ministers say that tougher Covid restrictions should come back into force if a serious wave emerges in autumn.

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

Following a video meeting on Monday, the health ministers of Germany’s 16 states said tougher restrictions should be imposed again if they are needed. 

“The corona pandemic is not over yet – we must not be deceived by the current declining incidences,” said Saxony-Anhalt’s health minister Petra Grimm-Benne, of the Social Democrats, who currently chairs the Conference of Health Ministers (GMK).

According to the GMK, new virus variants are expected to appear in autumn and winter. Over the weekend, federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) also warned that the more dangerous Delta variant could return to Germany. “That is why the federal Ministry of Health should draw up a master plan to combat the corona pandemic as soon as possible and coordinate it with the states,” Grimm-Benne said.

Preparations should also include an amendment of the Infection Protection Act, ministers urged. They want to see the states given powers to react to the infection situation in autumn and winter. They called on the government to initiate the legislative process in a timely manner, and get the states actively involved.

The current Infection Protection Act expires on September 23rd this year. Germany has loosened much of its Covid restrictions in the last months, however, face masks are still compulsory on public transport as well as on planes. 

READ ALSO: Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

The health ministers said that from autumn onwards, it should be possible for states to make masks compulsory indoors if the regional infection situation calls for it. Previously, wearing a Covid mask was obligatory in Germany when shopping and in restaurants and bars when not sitting at a table. 

Furthermore, the so-called 3G rule for accessing some venues and facilities – where people have to present proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test – should be implemented again if needed, as well as other infection protection rules, the ministers said. 

Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek, of the CSU, welcomed the ministers’ unanimous call for a revision of the Infection Protection Act. “The states must be able to take all necessary infection protection measures quickly, effectively, and with legal certainty,” he said.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s health minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) warned that no one should “lull themselves into a false sense of security”.

“We must now prepare for the colder season and use the time to be able to answer important questions about the immunity of the population or the mechanisms of infection chains,” he said.

On Tuesday, Germany reported 86,253 Covid infections within the latest 24 hour period, as well as 215 Covid-related deaths. The 7-day incidence stood at 437.6 infections per 100,000 people. However, experts believe there could be twice as many infections because lots of cases go unreported. 

READ ALSO: Five things to know about the Covid pandemic in Germany right now