Helge Braun, chief of staff of Chancellor Angela Merkel, fueled a debate in German politics after he said that restrictions for unvaccinated people “may be necessary” if Covid-19 infection numbers continue to rise in the coming months.
Chief of staff Helge Braun told the newspaper Bild am Sonntag that he doesn’t expect another lockdown to take place in Germany, but that unvaccinated people may be barred from entering venues such as restaurants, movie theatres or sports stadiums “because the residual risk is too high.”
“Vaccinated people will definitely have more freedoms than unvaccinated people,” Braun said, adding that such policies would be legal because “the state has the responsibility to protect the health of its citizens.”
Earlier this month, Braun sad many areas that were completely closed in the past must remain open to the vaccinated population.
The proposed measures are tyrannical at its core and only causes division – even within Angela Merkel’s own Christian Democrats party – which was seen after Braun made his comments.
In response, Armin Laschet, the candidate set to replace Merkel as Germany’s leader, said he currently opposes any formal or informal vaccine requirements for the time being. Of course, this just suggests that if elected he would introduce vaccine requirement restrictions…
Laschet told the German broadcaster ZDF on Sunday: “I don’t believe in compulsory vaccinations and I don’t believe we should put indirect pressure on people to get vaccinated.
“In a free country, there are rights to freedom, not just for specific groups.”
However, Laschet continued by stating that if Germany’s vaccination rates remain too low in the autumn months, other options could be considered, “but not now.”
Regardless of an official vaccine mandate, Germany’s vaccinated population is already getting preferential treatment. Those who have been vaccinated are getting VIP access to restaurants and bars that would otherwise require a recent negative Covid-19 test.
Currently, the reportedly highly transmissible delta variant is spreading in Germany, leading German politicians to debate the possibility of introducing compulsory Covid jabs for specific professions, including medical staff. No such requirements have been implemented yet.
In recent weeks, Germany’s vaccine efforts have slowed significantly, which has led to discussions about how to encourage those who haven’t had the vaccine to do so. As of press, more than 60 percent of the German population has received at least one dose while over 49 percent are fully vaccinated.
Angela Merkel has ruled out new vaccine requirements “at the moment”, but added, “I’m not ruling out that this might be talked about differently in a few months either.”
Other elected officials also supported the notion of vaccine requirements, with Baden-Württemberg governor, Winifried Kretschmann, a member of the Greens, arguing that the delta variant and other mutations could make vaccine requirements more attractive down the line.
Karl Lauterback, a health expert from the center-left Social Democrats, spoke in favour of possible restrictions. He told the Suddeutsche Zeitung that eventually one of the only remaining options to fight new variants will be “to restrict access to spaces where many people come together” to those who have either been vaccinated or recovered from the virus.
However, others immediately pushed back against Braun’s comments which were made on Sunday. Some expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of such restrictions, whilst others warned against the division and discrimination that a vaccine passport could create.
Marco Buschmann, parliamentary group leader for the pro-business Free Democrats, told the RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland newspaper group, that incentives need to be introduced “to reach the highest possible vaccination rate.”
But he added that imposing vaccine restrictions on the unvaccinated “would be a violation of their basic rights” if unvaccinated people who have been tested or recovered from the virus pose no greater danger than vaccinated people.
Whilst Braun’s comments have sparked substantial debate amongst German politicians regarding vaccine requirements, it would not be surprising to see such a mandate be implemented as many countries around the globe seek to restrict the rights of the unvaccinated.
In France, Prime Minister Macron has introduced vaccine passports for all French citizens which are compulsory for entry to bars, cafes, restaurants, transport, and access to large events.
Currently, in the UK, the Covid vaccine is voluntary except for care home workers, but vaccine passports are set to be introduced in September meaning that the British public will have to be fully vaccinated to access nightclubs and other large events.
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