German lawmakers on Thursday are set to debate new measures that, if passed, would block citizens’ access to non-essential stores if they are not vaccinated against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
The new rules will be discussed by outgoing chancellor Angela Merkel and finance minister Olaf Scholz along with regional premiers of Germany’s 16 states.
Scholz, who is expected to be elected chancellor next week, said on Tuesday that he backs a general COVID-19 vaccination mandate, but favors letting lawmakers vote according to their personal conscience rather than party lines on the matter.
If the proposed regulations get through, unvaccinated Germans will be barred from access to almost all businesses, except for essential businesses such as grocery stores and pharmacies. Other proposals include adding a maximum limit of two people from another household to meet each other, as well as requiring COVID-19 shots for health care workers.
According to a draft agreement prepared by Merkel’s office, the proposals on the table include the following:
- Restricting access to non-essential stores to people who are either vaccinated or recovered.
- Closing clubs in regions with high infection rates.
- Limiting the number of people who can take part in large events, such as soccer matches.
- Reintroducing limits on how many unvaccinated people can meet in private settings.
- A requirement for people who work in hospitals and nursing homes to get the COVID-19 shot, with the possibility of a general vaccination mandate next year.
- Mask mandate in schools.
Agreeing on which measures to take has been complicated by Germany’s political structure—with the 16 states responsible for many of the regulations—and the ongoing transition at the federal level.
Speaking during an interview with ZDF television, outgoing minister of health Jens Spahn said the new measures that are expected to pass is “virtually a lockdown for the unvaccinated.”
About 68.7 percent of the population in Germany is double jabbed, far below the minimum of 75 percent the government is aiming for.
Germany’s disease control agency reported 73,209 newly confirmed cases Thursday. The Robert Koch Institute also reported 388 new deaths from COVID-19, taking the total since the start of the pandemic to 102,178.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.