Currently, around 26.2% of the German population have received at least one COVID-19 jab and 7.7% are fully vaccinated. With the number of people fully vaccinated against coronavirus in Germany steadily increasing, the German government has set out new plans for freedoms for people who have the vaccine and those who have recovered from the virus.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Photo: U.S. Secretary of Defense, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
The introduction of freedoms for vaccinated, low-risk parts of the population has been an ethical conundrum for the German government. Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) argued that people who have been fully vaccinated pose minimal risk to others and restricting their rights is “unconstitutional.”
However, the government maintains that it does not want to create a two-tier society, in which a significant proportion of the population who have not been vaccinated have fewer rights.
Nevertheless, the German Ministry of Justice has laid out detailed proposals for the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions for those who are either fully vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19.
Under the proposed rules, contact restrictions and night-time curfews won’t apply to vaccinated or recovered people. It is expected that the new rules could come into force as early as 7th May and at the latest 28th May.
Additionally, vaccinated people who travel abroad will not have to present a negative COVID test or go into quarantine after entering Germany, providing they can present their vaccination certificate and have not knowingly had contact with an infected person. However, this does not mean inoculated persons living in Germany can enter other countries without presenting a negative test or adhering to self-isolation rules.
Under the government’s new plans, anyone who is fully immunised can also enter hairdressers and non-essential shops without providing a negative test result. Inoculated citizens must nevertheless still abide by Germany’s Maskenpflicht (mandatory mask wearing) and social distancing rules. For now, there are no plans to re-open the gastronomy and entertainment sectors for those deemed as lower risk.
Anyone wishing to take advantage of their new freedoms must present electronic or paper evidence that they are fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine, such as BioNTech, Moderna or AstraZeneca. For the recovered group, a positive PCR test that was taken at least 28 days ago but no more than six months ago suffices.
Some politicians have pushed for more privileges for the vaccinated so that business and public life can resume and recover, but the government does not wish to provoke anger and cause a social division between the vaccinated and unvaccinated parts of the population.
Except for Hamburg, all federal states in Germany have already implemented or are planning to relax some rules for fully vaccinated people before the nationwide regulation for the rights of vaccinated people is confirmed.
Hamburg’s Mayor, Peter Tschentscher, warned the federal and state governments against quick and careless steps after the vaccination summit and has decided to wait until next week for the federal government’s draft ordinance.