The proposed changes to the existing pandemic rules would include the lifting of certain social contact and movement restrictions. Vaccinated and rescued people no longer need a negative test if they want to go shopping, go to the hairdresser or visit a botanical garden, as the German Ministry of Justice shows.
People who live in Germany would no longer have to be quarantined after a trip abroad if they were fully vaccinated with a few regional exceptions.
Legislation must now go through the lower and then the upper chambers of Parliament. The lower house – the Bundestag – will meet on Thursday to discuss the proposals. However, the question remains how people can prove they received the vaccine and whether the possible relaxation of the rules is confusing, unsafe, or unfair.
The legislation could come into effect over the weekend.
According to the plan, vaccinated people are also allowed to meet privately without restrictions, which could come into force on Saturday if a vote by the German parliament. But wearing masks and social distancing in public places remain at stake.
After a rocky initial introduction of vaccination in the country, people are still craving coveted vaccine slots. And while the speed of vaccinations has increased, many are now desperate for the freedoms the new rules could offer. The possible changes were discussed and disputed in Germany for several reasons.
Medical experts have said the move could trigger the pandemic again. “It would be fatal if those who were vaccinated and those who recovered [from the virus] would be exempt from all tests upon entry, “said Ute Teichert, chairman of the Association of Doctors in Public Health Care (BVÖGD), opposite the Funke media group, as quoted by the CNN subsidiary n-tv.
Others have also warned of the risk of opening too quickly. Karl Lauterbach, expert on public health and politician of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), told the broadcaster Deutschlandfunk: “We cannot make the mistake of risking a quick, early setback now … we are still a long way from herd immunity. “
The question of the enforcement of these new regulations has been questioned by the German authorities. Jörg Radek, deputy national chairman of the state’s police union, told the German public broadcaster ARD: “I think we first need a transparent regulation that shows who these vaccination documents should apply to, and then we need a very clear one Possibility – which must be carefully checked – that these documents are forgery-proof. “
The plans are due to the falling number of coronavirus cases and deaths in Germany as well as an increased vaccination program in the country.
The Robert Koch Institute, the national agency for disease control and prevention, recorded 7,534 new cases on Tuesday, compared with 9,160 the previous day and 11,907 the previous Monday.
By Tuesday, 8% of the total German population had been fully vaccinated. More than 28.2% of the population have received at least one dose, according to the Ministry of Health.
While the possible easing of restrictions has sparked a debate about unfair privileges, Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht told n-tv that the state should not violate the rights of those who had their shots: “With the vaccination, these people now have the opportunity again to live out their fundamental rights. I think it’s solidarity to be happy for them, “she said.
Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn was also cautiously optimistic due to the success of Covid-19 vaccines to date. “The fact that we can look at restoring freedoms to vaccinated people – a year after the pandemic started – is because vaccines were developed in record time,” he said.
Many in Europe are now looking to the sunnier months and possible summer holidays, so a relaxation of pandemic restrictions cannot come fast enough for many and the entire travel industry.
Some federal states will open to tourism at the first opportunity. The southern Bavarian state, which has a large tourism industry, has announced that it will welcome visitors as soon as the seven-day incidence rate in the districts that want to welcome tourists falls below 100 per 100,000 people.
While for some Germans a domestic and maybe even international summer vacation is in sight, the signs for Pentecost at the end of May are less rosy, which is often seen as a traditional prelude to the German summer.
Thomas Bareiß, Federal Commissioner for Tourism and SMEs, told the Bild newspaper that the Whitsun break “will not take place again in many holiday regions”.