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COVID-19

Germany’s new government condemns ‘aggressive’ anti-vax movement

In a press conference held after the signing of the new government's coalition agreement in Berlin, incoming Chancellor Olaf Scholz slammed 'threatening' protests against Covid restrictions and vaccinations.

German anti-vax protest
An anti-vax protestor holds a sign demanding the "disclosure" of the "damage" caused by vaccination at a protest in Frankfurt, Hesse. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

We must react decisively against violent demonstrations,” Scholz said. Referring to a recent protest staged outside the private house of Saxony’s Health Minister, Scholz said these kinds of actions could only be interpreted as a “threat”. 

“As democrats, we reject that decisively,” he added.

His comments were echoed by Green Party co-leader Robert Habeck, who is set to head up the newly formed Ministry of Environment, Energy and Economy from Wednesday. 

“The fact that we need a higher vaccination rate isn’t up for debate,” he said.

It becomes problematic when, out of the multitude of different reasons (for not getting vaccinated), a movement arises – not necessarily against vaccination, but against the state, against a free and open democracy,” he added. 

On Friday evening, 30 protestors with torches and placards arrived at the house of Saxony’s health minister Petra Köpping (SPD) to demonstrate against the current Covid lockdown in the state. 

The action, which had to be broken up by the police, was allegedly supported by a far-right extremist group called the Free Saxons. Politicians around the country have since condemned the gathering as threatening and anti-democratic. 

Demonstrations against current Covid measures have been ramping up in Germany as the incoming government moves to bar unvaccinated people from most areas of public life, including non-essential shops.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany’s new Covid rules to fight fourth wave

The country has also introduced contract restrictions that prevent unvaccinated people from meeting more than two other people at a time. 

Critics of the measures claim that the moves risk sowing more division in an already divided society, but Scholz defended the move on Tuesday, claiming the German population was “not split” but rather “of one mind”. 

Demonstrators
A group of anti-vaxxers demonstrate with a sign that reads: “Hands off our children!” in Hannover, Lower Saxony. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

“We have to do everything in our power to protect the population, and we’ll only succeed if as many people as possible are vaccinated,” said Scholz. 

“We need restrictions, particularly for the people who haven’t got vaccinated, because there’s no doubt whatsoever that it’s the people who aren’t vaccinated who are driving the high infection rates.”

After representatives from the ‘traffic light’ coalition parties – the SPD, Greens and FDP – signed their 177-page coalition agreement on Tuesday, the new government is due to be sworn in on Wednesday.

First on the agenda in parliament will be voting in a range of new Covid measures such as a vaccine mandate for healthcare professionals and additional powers for German states to order restaurant and bar closures during the pandemic.

READ ALSO: Could German states order bar and restaurant closures under new Covid laws?

The new government will also hold a vote on whether the bring in compulsory Covid jabs for the general population.

Asked to share the coalition’s position on the issue, incoming Finance Minister and FDP leader Christian Lindner said the parties had “no fixed position”. Every MP will be able to vote with their conscience and across party lines, he explained. 

As of Tuesday, 69.1 percent of the German population was fully vaccinated, while 17.5 percent had received a booster jab.

The government is aiming to carry out 30 million jabs by Christmas as it seeks to dampen the Covid fourth wave.  

Member comments

  1. I do agree, even though I wouldn’t use such strong words, cause that is usually very off-putting for people. The hypocrisy is real though, and at this point in time I have no idea for what cause they are fighting. To claim that the only way to succeed in fighting covid is by getting as many people as possible vaccinated or to claim that the unvaccinated are to blame for the raising covid cases is just bogus and false. I suggest that people who are interested in facts and what real experts are thinking about this visit the webpage for Brownstone Institute. And before anyone calls me anti-vaxxer, I am indeed vaccinated, and I am also a fan of common sense, logic and the truth.

    1. The Brownstone Institute is a right-libertarian think-tank, which makes them “real experts” in a particular ideology, not public health.

      I think you’re wrong if you think an anarcho-capitalist society wouldn’t punish unvaccinated people. You know, health insurance companies use statistics to evaluate risks, they don’t like to lose money, and would hence quickly make it very difficult for anyone (except the super rich, who can afford it) to keep their insurances while being not vaccinated. The eventual consequences would be worse than not being allowed in bars, in my opinion.

      1. I do believe the Brownstone Institute looks at the facts and considers the good and the bad to help support sensible decision making. Sometimes the preventative actions taken by governments really do cause more harm than Covid itself. But we never see governments pointing all these things out. How can we support these decisions without being aware of all the facts? Take a look at Sweden to see a completely different approach closer to the kind of approach you’d expect from an honest government. They received a lot of criticism to begin with but turns out their decisions were better and are based on taking actions where they do the most good.

        1. I gave it a look and what I saw was contrarian articles, along the lines of “let’s do nothing, and people will do the right thing by themselves”. As always with libertarians, this is supported by facts and reason. In one of their recent articles, the author is unvaccinated and claims that his choice was “data-driven”. Give me a break. You might convince the average person, but I actually like to read scientific papers and statistics.

          What do you mean by “being aware of all the facts”? That’s more or less impossible, and not how science works. We don’t have all the facts, we work with what we have, and in light of new discoveries, we have to adapt. A lot of people don’t seem to like that.

          Until we come up with something else (which I hope we will), or the virus mutates to something more like common cold, having as many people vaccinated as possible is the best way to reduce deaths (especially in the 60+ age group, where it would be awesome to have close to 100% coverage, and boosters taken regularly).

          As for Sweden, they have 6-7x more deaths than similar countries like Norway & Finland. They didn’t do horribly, but I wouldn’t consider them such a great success either.

          1. You surely only gave this a cursory glance, which is unfortunate. That website is very much in line with the Great Barrington Declaration (see https://gbdeclaration.org/ ) signed by over 60k scientists and medical professionals who are concerned about the sort of actions that are being taken which could be far worse than Covid itself. Unfortunately I think many people are easily swayed by information provided that doesn’t consider all sides of a discussion. Information provided by Governments and Pharmaceutical companies may well be accurate, but it may also ignore some aspects that would prevent the results the authors wish to deliver. I know you could say the same argument applies to Brownstone, and it does. So it’s a question of who do you believe to be presenting all the facts? I am suspicious of Governments and Pharmaceuticals… I’m less suspicious of Brownstone, and many other sources I consider legitimate.

          2. You might also find this article on Sweden interesting (see https://sebastianrushworth.com/2021/11/20/covid-the-surprising-fourth-wave/ ). I’m not taking sides, I’m not anti-vaccination, I’m only presenting what I think is a more balanced approach to providing information which often contradicts the approach of some governments. I don’t think you can focus on just one thing and try to fix it without considering the harm you might be doing in implementing your chosen solution. It may be much worse.

  2. “claim that the unvaccinated are to blame for the raising corvid cases.”
    &
    “because there’s no doubt whatsoever that it’s the people who aren’t vaccinated who are driving the high infection rates.”

    Unless they have discovered new rules regarding virology the claim is inflammatory, (pun not intended).
    So many spouting out about that for which they have insufficient knowledge and, in many cases, influenced by dubious vested interests.

  3. Who knew that The Local comment section would come to life, with misinformation. The majority of infected people in Germany are in fact unvaccinated and can see the data at the RKI website. Additionally, the great majority of transmission events involve an unvaccinated person (see https://rocs.hu-berlin.de/news/role_of_vaccinated/) – none of this is meant to stigmatize or shame the unvaccinated, by the way – it’s just the way it is 🤷‍♂️

    1. Not peer reviewed and some pretty heavy assumptions to estimate this. Might be accurate, might not be… but it’s hardly the way it is. Vaccines won’t prevent you getting it, but they may prevent you getting tested! Just saying…

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COVID-19 RULES

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

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