Bundestag approves law exempting vaccinated people from numerous restrictions
The German Bundestag has waved through a law exempting fully-vaccinated people from numerous coronavirus rules, including contact restrictions and the night-time curfew. The law still needs to gain the approval of the Bundesrat, but could come into force as early as this weekend.
Bundestag approves easing of restrictions for vaccinated and recovered people
In a vote on Thursday, the Bundestag approved a new ordinance that provides for more freedoms for individuals who have been vaccinated against - or recovered from - coronavirus. The MPs accordingly decided that those who have received two coronavirus vaccinations, or have recovered from the disease within the past six months, should no longer be fully affected by coronavirus restrictions.
The black-red coalition (made up of the CDU, CSU and SPD parties), the Greens and the Left voted in favour of the regulation. The FDP abstained, while the AfD voted against it. The ordinance was passed by the federal cabinet on Tuesday. Now, it needs only the approval of the federal states, who will make their decision in the Bundesrat on Friday. The new measures could come into force at the weekend.
What freedoms are being given to vaccinated people in Germany?
The law states that those who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or recovered from the virus should be treated the same as those with a negative test - for instance if they want to go shopping or visit the hairdresser. They will also not be affected by quarantine obligations (for instance, if they travel abroad or come into contact with an infected person) or the night-time curfew.
It is further expected that fully vaccinated or recovered people will be allowed to meet up without restrictions, and will not count towards the maximum number of participants when meeting with non-vaccinated people. So, for example, in regions with high numbers of infections where the “one-household-plus-one-person” rule is in force, two non-vaccinated people would be allowed to meet with an unlimited number of fully-vaccinated people.
However, general hygiene rules such as mask and distance requirements will continue to apply to both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. Similar regulations easing restrictions for vaccinated and recovered people already exist in both Bavaria and Hesse.
Lifting of restrictions is a “fundamental step”
Federal Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht described the lifting of restrictions on fundamental rights as an “important step.” “The rule of law must apply, especially in times of crisis,” the SPD politician said, while emphasising that sometimes fundamental rights had to be restricted in order to protect life and health, and to safeguard the functioning of the healthcare system.
The FDP politician Christine Aschnberg-Dugnus, on the other hand, criticised the regulation as inadequate: “There are no slices of freedom, but only as a whole… You are very quick to impose measures restricting fundamental rights,” she said. “Unfortunately, it takes you much longer to reinstate them.”