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COVID-19 VACCINES

German parliament rejects over-60s vaccine mandate

The German Bundestag has rejected a bill from the SPD, Greens and FDP for a general Covid vaccine mandate for over-60s.

German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) speaks in a debate ahead of the vote on the general vaccine mandate
German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) speaks in a debate ahead of the vote on the general vaccine mandate. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

In a stinging defeat for Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s coalition, 378 MPs voted against the bill, while 296 voted in favour. 

Scholz, who in late November touted compulsory jabs for all adults as the surest way out of the pandemic, had set a goal of introducing the jabs in “late February or early March”.

The bill saw two groups of pro-vaccine MPs from the SPD, Greens and FDP join forces to put forward a “compromise” bill that they believed would attract maximal cross-party support.

If passed, it would have required over-60s to present proof of triple-vaccination against Covid-19 by October 1st, 2022, unless they had a medical exemption.

Under the proposals set out in the draft law, people between the ages of 18 and 59 would have been required to undergo a consultation with their doctor to discuss the possibility of getting a Covid jab.

READ ALSO: German parliament to vote on general vaccine mandate

The plans had faced fierce opposition during a debate in the Bundestag on Thursday morning, with politicians from the AfD, Left Party and CDU/CSU lining up to criticise the bill. 

As the results were announced, loud cheers and applause came from AfD politicians seated in the right-hand corner of the Bundestag, as the speaker called on MPs to treat the issue with the “seriousness it warrants”. 

MPs also voted against a motion from the opposition CDU/CSU parties that would have mandated the introduction of a general vaccine register and paved the way for a targeted vaccine mandate for certain professions and vulnerable groups. 

Two motions against a vaccine mandate were also voted down in the Bundestag on Thursday. 

The first, presented by a group of politicians around Wolfgang Kubicki (FDP) had argued for improvements to the vaccination campaign rather than a general mandate, while the second, from the AfD, stated that a vaccine mandate would be ineffective and unconstitutional. 

Parliamentarians had been allowed to vote with their conscience on the issue rather than being whipped along party lines. 

Member comments

  1. What a pleasant surprise i thought for sure they would be mandating jab five to save Christmas.

    I have no doubt that there’s going to be a lockdown towards the end of summer at the latest. As they will return to the pressure pot method for covid jab refusniks. Well I was wrong about the vote maybe im wrong about this too and we can all go back to normal. But judging how now the mandates are lifting and people are loosing their minds. I would not be surprised to see protests begging for more life saving lockdowns soon.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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