“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.
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.