Freedoms reserved for Germans with a recent negative Covid-19 test will be also offered to those who are fully vaccinated, the country’s health minister has promised, teasing an upcoming lifting of the much-loathed lockdown.
Vaccinated Germans will be free to travel, shop, or have their hair done as if they were certified corona-free by a test, Health Minister Jens Spahn has promised in an interview. That is, if and when such privileges become available.
The policy is based on a fresh report by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Germany’s prime scientific authority on infectious diseases, which said people who received their second booster shot at least 15 days ago pose a smaller risk of infecting others than those with a recent negative Covid-19 test.
So “after the urgent need to break the third wave is met,” Spahn told Bild am Sonntag, fully vaccinated people and those with negative tests will be treated equally. He added that travelers will not be required to observe quarantine if they have received the vaccine, which may be a boon for spring and summer vacations.
“We will now put these findings into practice after discussing them with the federal states in a timely manner,” the minister promised. The newspaper said the new regulations may be put into place within weeks.
Fearful of a third wave of Covid-19 infections, Germany has kept lockdown measures in place even as some leaders of federal states openly rebel against Berlin. Last month, Chancellor Angela Merkel was forced to back-pedal on a suggestion of putting in place even stronger measures for Easter.
Criticisms of the government may be partially motivated by the upcoming September general election, which will determine who will replace Merkel at the helm of the country. The popularity of her party, which surged last year amid public perception of a competent response to Covid-19, has since dwindled over a slower-than-promised deployment of vaccines.
Spahn warned this week that the spread of the virus was too fast, and that in April the national healthcare system may reach breaking point. The looming crisis is exacerbated by both public weariness with the lockdown and the slow vaccination rate.
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