‘Majority of Germans’ against immediately lifting restrictions for vaccinated people

New measures passed on Friday in Germany will give vaccinated people - as well as those who have recovered from Covid-19 - more freedoms. Yet the population is torn over whether that’s a good idea right now.

'Majority of Germans' against immediately lifting restrictions for vaccinated people
A woman at the beach in Kiel on Thursday. Tourism could soon become much more accessible to those with the vaccine. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Georg Wendt

A total of 40 percent of respondents from an ARD-Deutschlandtrend survey said they thought it was “fundamentally wrong” for those who are fully vaccinated or have already recovered from a coronavirus infection to be exempt from restrictions such as social gathering rules and curfews.

From a first glance, it also appeared that the majority (55 percent) were in favour of easing curbs for vaccinated people. Yet this group disagreed on the timing – with the majority feeling it was too soon to allow special privileges for those who had gotten the vaccine.

READ ALSO: Germany to allow more freedom for Covid vaccinated people from Saturday

A full 51 percent of the 1,351 respondents percent felt that that extra freedoms should only be granted when more German residents have had the chance to receive their jabs in the first place.

Currently German states are vaccinating either priority group two or three, the latter which includes people over 60 and or with certain pre-existing medical conditions. 

However on Thursday Germany announced that it states can open up vaccines with disputed manufacturer AstraZeneca to anyone in the country who wanted one, regardless of if they are on a priority list or not. 

As of May 6th about 31.5 percent of the population had received at least one jab, and 8.8 percent had been fully inoculated.

Meanwhile, a Civey survey from Tuesday showed similar results: 45 percent of people thought that vaccine privileges should only apply when everyone has received a chance to be vaccinated.

In a March survey The Local conducted, many readers were also on edge about a ‘vaccine passport’ to guarantee more freedoms – especially when many younger people are still waiting in line for their jabs. 

READ ALSO: ‘The only way forward’: Should Germany introduce a Covid-19 immunity passport?

‘Chancellor should announce timeline back to normality’

German politicians were also deeply divided about loosening restrictions for people who had already received their shots, or previously had the virus. 

Free Democratic (FDP) general secretary Volker Wissing told Bild daily on Friday that curbs should be generally lifted – with a specific date – rather than waiting for more people to receive the vaccine.

“We are vaccinating our freedom back! It would do our society good if the chancellor now quickly names a date from when we can have our normal lives again – like in the US and the UK,” he said.

Yet Social Democratic (SPD) health expert Karl Lauterbach, who expects the virus incidence rate to fall exponentially in a few weeks, appealed to all Germans to live with the restrictions until the end of May. 

“We’ve held out for a year and four months. Don’t we want to hold out for these three more weeks and then have the full enjoyment?” he said Thursday evening on the ZDF program Maybrit Illner.

This last stretch of moderation is also important for those “who can not yet receive a vaccine.”

READ ALSO: ‘Hold out a little longer’: German health expert warns against lifting restrictions too soon

The national chairman of the German GP association, Ulrich Weigeldt, appealed to people in Germany to get vaccinated with AstraZeneca also out of global responsibility. 

While in India or Brazil severely ill people are collapsing on the way to the clinic, or completely unable to get a vaccine, “in Germany we are engaged in a sometimes absurd debate about whether strictly tested, already approved vaccines are really good enough for us,” Weigeldt told the news portal T-online.

“We have to vaccinate. Everything that’s there, to everyone who wants it. Now.”

READ ALSO: Germany gives green light to offer AstraZeneca vaccine to all adults


respondents – (die) Befragte

A step in the right direction – in die richtige Richtung gehen

Recovered people – (die) Genesene

to call on/to appeal – appellieren

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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Could there be a new wave of Covid-19 in Germany this autumn?

It’s back again: amid sinking temperatures, the incidence of Covid-19 has been slowly rising in Germany. But is this enough to merit worrying about the virus?

Could there be a new wave of Covid-19 in Germany this autumn?

More people donning face masks in supermarkets, friends cancelling plans last minute due to getting sick with Covid-19. We might have seen some of those familiar reminders recently that the coronavirus is still around, but could there really be a resurgence of the virus like we experienced during the pandemic years?

According to virologists, the answer seems to be ‘maybe’: since July, the number of people newly infected with Covid-19 has been slowly rising from a very low level.

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), nine people per 100,000 inhabitants became newly infected in Germany last week. A year ago, there were only around 270 reported cases.

Various Corona variants are currently on the loose in the country. According to the RKI,  the EG.5 (also called Eris) and XBB.1.16 lines were each detected in the week ending September 3rd with a share of just under 23 percent. 

The highly mutated variant BA.2.86 (Pirola), which is currently under observation by the World Health Organisation (WHO), also arrived in the country this week, according to RKI. 

High number of unreported case

The RKI epidemiologists also warned about a high number of unreported cases since hardly any testing is done. They pointed out that almost half of all registered sewage treatment plants report an increasing viral load in wastewater tests.

The number of hospital admissions has also increased slightly, but are still a far cry from the occupation rate amid the pandemic. Last week it was two per 100,000 inhabitants. In the intensive care units, only 1.2 percent of all beds are occupied by Covid-19 patients.

Still, a good three-quarters (76.4 percent) of people in Germany have been vaccinated at least twice and thus have basic immunity, reported RKI. 

Since Monday, doctors’ offices have been vaccinating with the adapted vaccine from Biontech/Pfizer, available to anyone over 12 years old, with a vaccine for small children set to be released the following week and one for those between 5 and 11 to come out October 2nd.

But Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has so far only recommended that people over 60 and those with pre-existing conditions get vaccinated.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Who should get a Covid jab this autumn in Germany?

“The pandemic is over, the virus remains,” he said. “We cannot predict the course of coming waves of corona, but it is clear that older people and people with pre-existing conditions remain at higher risk of becoming severely ill from Covid-19”

The RKI also recommended that people with a cold voluntarily wear a mask. Anyone exhibiting cough, cold, sore throat or other symptoms of a respiratory illness should voluntarily stay at home for three to five days and take regular corona self-tests. 

However, further measures such as contact restrictions are not necessary, he said.

One of many diseases

As of this autumn, Covid-19 could be one of many respiratory diseases. As with influenza, there are no longer absolute infection figures for coronavirus.

Saarbrücken pharmacist Thorsten Lehr told German broadcaster ZDF that self-protection through vaccinations, wearing a mask and getting tested when symptoms appear are prerequisites for surviving the Covid autumn well. 

Only a new, more aggressive mutation could completely turn the game around, he added.

On April 7th of this year, Germany removed the last of its over two-year long coronavirus restrictions, including mask-wearing in some public places.

READ ALSO: German doctors recommend Covid-19 self-tests amid new variant