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German MPs set out plans for over-18s vaccine mandate

A few days before the first deliberations on compulsory Covid vaccinations in the German Bundestag, politicians in favour of a vaccine mandate have set out details of their plans.

Vaccine sceptics protest in Saxony
Vaccine sceptics protest against a potential mandate in the town of Bautzen, Saxony. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Sebastian Kahnert

Speaking to DPA over the weekend, Dirk Wiese, the deputy chairman of the SPD Parliamentary Group who is working together with other politicians from the traffic coalition to flesh out proposals for the vaccine mandate, provided details of their plans.

According to Wiese, jabs could be made compulsory in Germany for anyone over the age of 18 for a limited period of one to two years. People who ignore the mandate or don’t have sufficient vaccine protection will be hit with fines. 

Though the idea of a centralised vaccine register has been floated in the past weeks, the so-called traffic light coalition parties (SPD, Greens and FDP) are keen to avoid this because it would be too time-consuming.

Instead, they would have vaccinations and exceptions checked by local public health officers.

On Friday, Wiese, together with six politicians from the Greens and the FDP, announced a group motion for compulsory vaccination from the age of 18 in a letter to all members of the Bundestag – except those of the far-right AfD party.

READ ALSO: German MPs to decide on general vaccine mandate ‘in March’

Green Party health politician Janosch Dahmen is one of the politicians tasked with shaping the legislation.

“Compulsory vaccination can make society more peaceful because it provides clarity,” he told Bild am Sonntag.

Both Dahmen and Wiese want to see fans levied on people who aren’t sufficiently vaccinated as opposed to more coercive punishments like prison sentences. 

Dirk Wiese (SPD)

Dirk Wiese (SPD) speaks in a debate on home affairs on January 12th, 2022. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

According to the Administrative Offences Acts, government fines can be set anywhere between €5 and €1,000 unless a specific law says otherwise. That means that that fines levied on the unvaccinated could be even higher.

In neighbouring Austria, where a vaccine mandate is due to come into force in February, fines are set at a maximum of €3,600. 

Dahmen has previously come out in favour of a fine “in the middle three-digit range”, while Wiese has suggested that some of the penalties could be means-tested. 

In a press conference held in December, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) said that people who disobeyed vaccine mandates would face “considerable” fines.

Three shots rather than two

If the traffic light’s vaccine mandate law is voted through by parliament later this year, three jabs would be required for someone to count as fully vaccinated, rather than the previous two. 

“On the basis of current studies, one can say that with three vaccinations one has achieved a good basic immunisation against a severe course of Covid,” Wiese explained.

However, if a further booster jab is recommended for certain groups of the population later in the pandemic, this additional shot would be voluntary. 

Wiese said the duration of the vaccine mandate would be guided by advice from the Covid Council of Experts, but would likely be one to two years.

The plans laid out by the governing SPD, Greens and FDP coalition aren’t without competition, however.

So far, FDP health expert Andrew Ullmann has put forward an alternative draft law that would see a vaccine mandate introduced solely for the over-50s age group, while Bundestag vice president Wolfgang Kubicki (FDP) is gathering support for legislation against compulsory jabs.

READ ALSO: Scholz pushes mandatory jabs as resistance grows in Germany

Vaccine mandate for health workers falters

According to reports in Tagesspiegel, a plan to introduce mandatory Covid jabs for health workers is facing major opposition from state leaders.

Though the law has already been passed by the federal parliament, states are allegedly pushing for the introduction of the law to be postponed until a so-called ‘dead’ or ‘inactivated’ vaccine – where the virus is killed off – from Novavax is available on the market.

Politicians in favour of postponing the legislation believe that the new vaccine could find more public acceptance than the current mRNA and viral vector vaccines. 

A recent survey of vaccine hesitant people found that around half of those who hadn’t got vaccinated against Covid would do so if they could get an inactivated or dead vaccine. 

This type of vaccine involves growing a virus and then killing it off to prevent any disease-creating capacity. 

State leaders are also reportedly concerned that nurses who are against vaccination could fail to turn up to work once the new law is introduced, exacerbating existing staff shortages. 

READ ALSO: ‘I was against vaccine mandates in Germany – until hospitals became overwhelmed’

“We don’t want there to be a loss of nursing capacities in the nursing and hospital sector,” Bavarian state premier Markus Söder (CSU) told the Augsburger Allgemeine.

In his view, it would be highly counterproductive if an exodus of nursing staff led to an overload of the healthcare system.

The federal government should therefore once again examine introducing a vaccine mandate for all, he argued. 

Member comments

  1. Are the AfD no longer classed as members of the Bundestag?
    This legislation only has likely end dates and
    I dont believe for one second that additional shots would be voluntary.
    Forced vaccination equals guaranteed profits and secure jobs for the politicians afterwards.

  2. From the country that brought you forced sterilisation and forced euthanasia , now a forced experimental ‘vaccine’ also ‘for the greater good’. Ignore the echoes of history at your peril. Real democracy means persuading the public and it’s messy and not as efficient as diktat but it’s what we want. We have no desire, for the greater good or otherwise, to see old German methods or indeed current Chinese methods deployed against us.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Germany approves €9 public transport ticket for summer

It's official - people in Germany will get cheap public transport for three months this summer after the €9 ticket was approved.

Germany approves €9 public transport ticket for summer

As part of a host of energy relief measures to cushion the cost of living crisis, the German government is offering cheap public transport for the months of June, July and August. 

Monthly tickets will be available at a price of €9 (or €27 for all three months) and they will allow people to use all buses, trains and trams in local and regional transport throughout the country.

So even if people buy the ticket in Munich, they will also be able to use local and regional buses, trains and trams elsewhere in Germany, whether it’s Hamburg or Cologne. 

READ ALSO: How to explore Germany by train with the €9 ticket

The ticket will not be valid, however, on long-distance transport such as ICE trains or Flixbus.

The offer was put together by the coalition government – made of the Social Democrats, the Greens and the FDP.

The Bundestag voted for the initiative on Thursday, agreeing to give federal states a subsidy of €2.5 billion to fund the project. 

And on Friday, the Bundesrat – the upper house of parliament that represents the states – gave the green light to the ticket, paving the way for it to begin on June 1st. 

States had wanted an extra €1.5 billion funding boost to deal with lost revenue, however it would have been hugely controversial if they had blocked it.

READ ALSO: German states threaten to block the €9 ticket in the Bundesrat

During a debate on Thursday, federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) said the €9 project was “already a success”.

“All of Germany is talking about local public transport,” he said, adding that it is also being viewed with interest abroad. 

READ ALSO: ‘Fantastic’: Your verdict on Germany’s €9 ticket

The Left party (Die Linke) voted in favour of the €9 ticket, but leader Bernd Riexinger said he thought the plan didn’t go far enough. “Three months is simply too little,” he said.

The opposition, however, slammed the move. Christian Democrat Michael Donth called it an “expensive experiment”.

Rail operator Deutsche Bahn will offer the ticket for sale as early as Monday. Local public transport providers across the country are also preparing their ticket machines for the initiative. It will also be available in travel centres.

People with subscriptions to local transport will automatically benefit from the offer. 

In some regions, such as Stuttgart and Freiburg, the ticket is already available for purchase.

READ ALSO: How to get a hold of the €9 ticket in Berlin

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