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COVID-19

People who disobey vaccine mandates will face ‘considerable’ fines, says German Health Minister

As the German parliament votes through a vaccine mandate for medical and care workers, the new Health Minister has clarified that people who avoid compulsory Covid jabs will face fines rather than prison sentences.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach in the Bundestag
Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) defends proposals for mandatory jabs for health workers in the Bundestag on Friday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bernd von Jutrczenka

“Nobody will have to go to prison,” Karl Lauterbach explained in an interview with Speigel on Friday.

Instead, the SPD politician said the government will levy fines on people who deliberately ignore any vaccine mandates. “The imposition of fines is unavoidable,” Lauterbach said. 

He said it was necessary to talk to psychologists and economists to determine “at what point fines start to have an effect” before setting the level of the fines.  

If someone doesn’t pay, the fines will have to be increased considerably, he said, adding: “I’m sure that just by announcing the general vaccination requirement, we’ll reach a lot of people.”

In the interview with Spiegel, Germany’s new Health Minister also spoke out in favour of a vaccine mandate for teachers and nursery school employees in light of the latest findings about the Omicron variant.

“According to everything we know so far, the new Omicron variant infects children much more easily than the previous variants,” he said. “The children become infected more often, and they also fall ill more severely.” 

This is also the reason that parents should take up the opportunity to get their children vaccinated, he added. 

When the new government’s amendments to the Infection Protection Act are approved Bundesrat on Friday, it will bring Germany’s first Covid vaccine mandate into force.

From March 15th, 2022, employees in clinics, doctors’ surgeries and care homes will have to show proof that they are fully vaccinated – or present a doctor’s note explaining why they are unable to get their jabs. 

READ ALSO: How Germany is tightening Covid laws to allow for more restrictions

The step towards compulsory jabs for certain sections of the population follows similar moves by France, Italy, Britain and Greece.

Neighbouring Austria plans to bring in a general vaccine mandate by next February, with fines of around €3,000 for people who still refuse to get their Covid jabs.

Germany’s new Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said he is in favour of compulsory jabs but the general public, but he will need to secure the support of a majority of parliamentarians when the matter is put to a vote later this month.

READ ALSO: 

Member comments

  1. Quite incredible. Certainly the end of the rule of law in Europe. So much for the Enlightenment. Sounds very like a new Dark Age is about to engulf the Continent – again.

    1. Oh quit your melodramatic bellyaching. Vaccine mandates are nothing new. It’s been necessary a necessary step for other diseases in the past and it’s a necessary step again. Take off your tinfoil hat and get vaccinated.

      1. The odd thing is that the new variant sweeping Europe and displacing all others, has only mild symptoms and has so far resulted in zero hospitalisations and zero deaths. The vaccines on the other hand which have variously been banned for the over 65s, then banned for the under 65s and finally reinstated for the over 65s but banned for other age groups on a fluctuating basis are now to be compulsory despite the certainty of serious side effects for some. Still, you seem like a nice compliant bloke and I’m sure you and yours will be just fine.

        1. If you think that nearly a quarter of ICU beds in Germany being occupied by COVID patients isn’t serious, your privilege and hubris are beyond measure.

          You seem to think that refusing to inoculate yourself against deadly diseases makes you a rebel. It doesn’t. It makes you selfish, irresponsible, and quite frankly stupid. Have fun staying in permanent lockdown. You deserve the consequences of your actions.

      2. At the end of the day , it’s not only about the vaccine, it’s about our fundamental rights and our freedom to make choices for ourselves and to take on responsibility for our own health. Those who wear tinfoil hats seemed to have been able to predict what is coming. Mandatory vaccinations are necessary for some diseases, that’s correct, but not for one by which over 99% of the population are not affected. Take you vaccination, but you and the government should stop pressing your agenda on and discriminating against others!!!

        1. You mean the same people who actively endangered their fellow citizens by refusing to follow basic health and safety measures predicted that their behavior would lead to mandates? Who would’ve guessed! If you had told me that 30% of the population was that insolent, I would have predicted that as well.

          Your fundamental rights end at the point where your decisions endanger others. If you are to reap the benefits of society, you don’t have any more right to refuse vaccination than you do to refuse health insurance. That’s not discrimination. It’s the basis of civil society.

          99%? Really? Tell that to the 1/4 of ICU beds in Germany currently occupied by Covid patients. Stop spreading conspiracies and wake up already.

    2. Without vaccines, you would be thrown back to the Dark Age. Hospitals would be overwhelmed if everyone decided to ride out covid without vaccines.

  2. “ The children become infected more often, and they also fall ill more severely.”

    Really? And the evidence for this is zero.

    Children are not at any significant risk. Indeed, all the evidence is ( and I can personally testify) that repeated exposure makes symptoms far less severe the second time,

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COVID-19

Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

High profile German virologist Christian Drosten believes Germany will see a severe spike in Covid infections after summer, and that the pandemic will not become endemic this year.

Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

Drosten previously said that Germany would probably be able to declare the end of the pandemic this year.

But in an interview with Spiegel, Drosten said he had reevaluated his opinion. 

“When the Alpha variant came, it was very surprising for me. When Delta appeared I was sceptical at first, then with Omicron we had to reorient ourselves again. And since January there have already been new Omicron subtypes.

“So I would actually like to correct myself: I no longer believe that by the end of the year we will have the impression that the pandemic is over.”

READ ALSO: End is in sight for pandemic in Germany, says virologist 

Drosten also said that Germany will not see a largely Covid-free summer, which has been the case in previous years, and a further increase in infections in autumn. 

“We are actually already seeing an exponential increase in case numbers again,” Drosten said.

“The BA.5 variant (of Omicron) is simply very transmissible, and people are losing their transmission protection from the last vaccination at the same time.”

In other countries, he said, when the number of cases become high, hospitalisation and death rates also rise again. “Unfortunately, that will also be the case here,” said Drosten, but added: “Overall, however, far fewer people will become seriously ill and die than in 2021.”

Drosten said he expected many more infections from September.

“I hope that the school holidays will dampen the increase in cases somewhat. But from September, I fear we will have very high case numbers,” the head of the virology department at Berlin’s Charité hospital told Spiegel.

READ ALSO: German Health Minister lays out autumn Covid plan

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021.

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

If the government does not take any action, he predicted there would be a lot of sick leave across all industries. “That will become a real problem,” he said.

Drosten said he did not expect overcrowded intensive care units in Germany.

But the new BA.5 sub-variant, which is becoming dominant in Germany, may affect people more strongly. 

“The wheel is turning more towards disease again,” said Drosten. It is not true that a virus automatically becomes more and more harmless in the course of evolution. “That makes me even more worried about the autumn,” he said.

Drosten recommends wearing masks indoors during the colder months, saying it is “the least painful” measure.

If, in addition, “up to 40 million people could be immunised or given a booster vaccination” before winter, for example by urgently calling for company vaccinations, that would “really make a difference”, Drosten said.

In the long term, he said it’s inevitable that people will become infected with coronavirus.

He said the population immunity due to vaccinations and infections will at some point be so strong that the virus will become less important. “Then we will be in an endemic state,” said Drosten. In the worst case, however, this could take “several more winters”.

However, Drosten warned against people trying to deliberately infect themselves with Covid, saying getting the infection in summer doesn’t mean people will be protected in winter. 

Drosten himself said he has not yet contracted Covid-19.

“So far, I guess I’ve just been lucky,” he said. “I rarely put myself in risky situations, but I’m not overly cautious either.”

‘Pandemic depends on behaviour’

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI)’s latest weekly report, more outbreaks are occurring in care homes, and the number of patients in intensive care units is slightly rising as infections go up. 

The institute said there had been a 23 percent increase in the 7-day incidence compared to the previous week. On Friday the 7-day incidence stood at 618.2 infections per 100,000 people. There were 108,190 infections within the latest 24 hour period and 90 deaths. 

“The further course of the pandemic depends not only on the occurrence of new virus variants and the uptake of vaccinations on offer, it also depends to a large extent on the behaviour of the population,” said the RKI.

According to the DIVI intensive care register, the number of Covid-19 patients in ICUs had increased to 810 on Thursday this week, from about 600 at the beginning of the month.

However, that number is still low compared to previous Covid peaks when thousands of people were in intensive care in Germany. 

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