Germany debates new restrictions for unvaccinated people

Germany debates new restrictions for unvaccinated people

With COVID-19 infections on the rise once again in Germany, a debate has broken out about the possibility of introducing new restrictions for unvaccinated people only. 

New restrictions for unvaccinated people only?

Germany has long been clear about the fact that it will not make vaccines against COVID-19 compulsory. However, more recently there have been indications that the government has no qualms in using policies to make vaccination seem like the favourable option. For instance, politicians said a few weeks ago that they would not rule out making unvaccinated people pay for coronavirus tests

The issue has been bubbling under the surface for some time, but it was catapulted into the spotlight this weekend when Angela Merkel’s chief of staff, Helge Braun, said that unvaccinated people might be barred from restaurants, cinemas, stadiums and large events if the infection rate continues to rise. 

“In the event of a high infection rate despite testing, unvaccinated people would have to reduce their contacts,” he told Bild am Sonntag. “This could also mean that certain things, such as visiting restaurants, cinemas and stadiums, would no longer be possible even for unvaccinated people who have been tested, because the residual risk is too high.” 

Politicians say idea is not discrimination against unvaccinated

Several figures have come out in support of the idea, including Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who in an interview with RTL / ntv said, “This is not discrimination against the unvaccinated.” While maintaining that vaccinations should not be compulsory, Seehofer added, “But the person who has not been vaccinated must also realise that we have to protect society as a whole and therefore can only allow those who have been vaccinated to attend major community events.” 

He said rather than forcing people - for instance by making vaccinations a prerequisite for things like finding a job or taking out insurance in Germany - the government has to “convince people to get vaccinated”, potentially by offering advantages to those who get the jab. 

The president of the World Medical Association, Frank Ulrich Montgomery, also stood by Braun’s remarks. “There is no reason to withhold basic rights from vaccinated and immunised people just because a few eternal sceptics evade vaccinations,” he told the Funke media group. 

Forcing vaccines through the back door?

However, the idea hasn’t been universally well-received. The state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia and conservative chancellor candidate, Armin Laschet, said he wasn’t in favour. “I don’t think anything of compulsory vaccination and I don’t think anything of indirectly putting pressure on people to get vaccinated,” he said in an interview with ZDF. 

Wolfgang Kubicki, of the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) was also outspoken in his disdain for the “clearly unconstitutional” idea, describing it as “introducing compulsory vaccination through the back door”.

The Left’s Janine Wissler believes that threatening unvaccinated people with restrictions is the wrong way to go, especially since some population groups are currently not advised to get vaccinated, such as children under the age of 12 and women during pregnancy.

Next coronavirus summit could be brought forward

At the beginning of the month, German Health Minister Jens Spahn said that, so long as no new mutations arise that impact the protection provided by vaccines, he did not expect new restrictions to be introduced for vaccinated people. But with the infection rate rising, some figures are getting understandably twitchy. 

Over the weekend, the leaders of several German states said they wanted to hold a new round of talks on the coronavirus situation in Germany. The next summit is not scheduled until the end of August, but recently Angela Merkel indicated she was willing to bring it forward. Restrictions for unvaccinated people will almost certainly be one of the topics up for discussion. 



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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TomRosek2 12:08 | 29 July 2021

I agree with restrictions on those who are unvacinated, especially the idiototic anti-vax types. Sure, a few who can't get vaccinated will get the short end of the stick, but unfortunately that's just how it is.