Unjabbed could face new curbs in Germany, says Merkel aide

BERLIN (AFP) – People who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 could face new restrictions if infections continue to rise in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff said in an interview yesterday.

“Vaccinated people will definitely have more freedom than unvaccinated people,” Helge Braun told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

Currently, Germans can use facilities such as restaurants, cinemas and sports venues if they are either fully vaccinated or able to provide a recent negative test.

But if infection rates continue to rise, unvaccinated people will have to reduce their contacts, Braun said.

“That could mean that visiting places like restaurants, cinemas and stadiums would no longer be possible even for tested unvaccinated people because the risk is too high,” he said.

Revellers wait in line to enter an entertainment venue in Berlin’s Friedrichshain district. PHOTO: AFP

The country has a duty to protect people’s health, Braun said. “This includes a health service that does not have to postpone cancer and joint operations again in winter to treat COVID patients.”

Germany has seen low infection numbers over the summer compared to many of its European neighbours, but cases have been creeping up over the past two weeks, largely fuelled by the Delta variant.

Merkel last week said she was concerned about the “clear and worrying dynamic” of rising cases, urging as many Germans as possible to get vaccinated.

As of yesterday, 60.8 per cent of Germans had received one jab, with 49.1 per cent fully vaccinated.

However, Merkel has also said Germany is not planning to follow France and other countries in introducing compulsory vaccinations for parts of the population.

Health Minister Jens Spahn said in early July that people who are vaccinated will not have to go into full lockdown again and will enjoy more freedoms than unvaccinated people in case of another virus resurgence.

“As long as there are no mutations that impact the protection from vaccines… then being fully vaccinated means that restrictions of the kind we saw last winter will not be necessary, needed or legally appropriate,” he said.