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VACCINES

‘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

Vocabulary

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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COVID-19

Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Since the start of Germany’s Oktoberfest, the incidence of Covid infections in Munich has risen sharply. Though a connection with the festival can’t yet be proven, it seems likely.

Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Two weeks after the start of Oktoberfest, the Covid numbers in Munich have more than tripled.

On Sunday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported an incidence of 768.7 for the city of Munich, though updated figures for the end of the festival are not expected until later in the week. Usually, on weekends and public holidays, there is a delay in reports.

In the entire state of Bavaria, the incidence value on Sunday was 692.5.

According to Munich’s public health officer, Beatrix Zurek, bed occupancy in Munich hospitals has also increased. Two weeks ago, 200 beds in Munich were occupied by Covid patients, whereas there are now around 350.

Though a relationship between the sharp rise in infections with Oktoberfest, which ended on Monday, can’t be proven at the moment, it seems very likely, according to experts. A significant increase in Covid incidences has also been shown at other public festivals – about one and a half weeks after the start. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s famed Oktoberfest opens after two-year pandemic hiatus

After a two-year break due to the pandemic, around 5.7 million visitors came to this year’s Wiesn according to the festival management – around 600,000 fewer than at the last Oktoberfest before the pandemic in 2019, when there were 6.3 million.

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) took to Twitter to comment on the rise in incidence in Munich during the Oktoberfest. “This would not have been necessary if self-tests had been taken before admission,” he said.

“Compared to the price of a measure of beer, €2-3 (for tests) wouldn’t have mattered,” he said.

Even before the start of the Wiesn, he had spoken out in favour of people taking voluntary self-tests. Lauterbach stressed that now is the time for special measures against Covid.

“The development shows what will happen if the states wait too long with the mask obligation in indoor areas,” he added.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany’s new Covid-19 rules from October

In neighbouring counties, where many Oktoberfest visitors came from, the number of Covid cases has also risen noticeably.  Beatrix Zurek said that it is unclear, however, how much of a role Oktoberfest played in these figures, as people are currently much more active socially overall, with concerts and other events also taking place throughout the state.

Christoph Spinner, an infections specialist at Munich’s Klinikum, has urged people not to be alarmed by the rising numbers.

“We had expected rising incidences here. We knew that there could be a doubling, tripling, even quadrupling,” he said.

He said that this is no cause for concern, as many people have been vaccinated or have also recovered from previous Covid infections, so any new infections are therefore usually mild.

The virologist advises people over 60 or with pre-existing conditions to get a second booster vaccination, but otherwise said people shouldn’t be alarmed by the rising incidences.

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