Germany’s new government condemns ‘aggressive’ anti-vax movement

In a press conference held after the signing of the new government's coalition agreement in Berlin, incoming Chancellor Olaf Scholz slammed 'threatening' protests against Covid restrictions and vaccinations.

German anti-vax protest
An anti-vax protestor holds a sign demanding the "disclosure" of the "damage" caused by vaccination at a protest in Frankfurt, Hesse. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

We must react decisively against violent demonstrations,” Scholz said. Referring to a recent protest staged outside the private house of Saxony’s Health Minister, Scholz said these kinds of actions could only be interpreted as a “threat”. 

“As democrats, we reject that decisively,” he added.

His comments were echoed by Green Party co-leader Robert Habeck, who is set to head up the newly formed Ministry of Environment, Energy and Economy from Wednesday. 

“The fact that we need a higher vaccination rate isn’t up for debate,” he said.

It becomes problematic when, out of the multitude of different reasons (for not getting vaccinated), a movement arises – not necessarily against vaccination, but against the state, against a free and open democracy,” he added. 

On Friday evening, 30 protestors with torches and placards arrived at the house of Saxony’s health minister Petra Köpping (SPD) to demonstrate against the current Covid lockdown in the state. 

The action, which had to be broken up by the police, was allegedly supported by a far-right extremist group called the Free Saxons. Politicians around the country have since condemned the gathering as threatening and anti-democratic. 

Demonstrations against current Covid measures have been ramping up in Germany as the incoming government moves to bar unvaccinated people from most areas of public life, including non-essential shops.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany’s new Covid rules to fight fourth wave

The country has also introduced contract restrictions that prevent unvaccinated people from meeting more than two other people at a time. 

Critics of the measures claim that the moves risk sowing more division in an already divided society, but Scholz defended the move on Tuesday, claiming the German population was “not split” but rather “of one mind”. 

A group of anti-vaxxers demonstrate with a sign that reads: “Hands off our children!” in Hannover, Lower Saxony. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

“We have to do everything in our power to protect the population, and we’ll only succeed if as many people as possible are vaccinated,” said Scholz. 

“We need restrictions, particularly for the people who haven’t got vaccinated, because there’s no doubt whatsoever that it’s the people who aren’t vaccinated who are driving the high infection rates.”

After representatives from the ‘traffic light’ coalition parties – the SPD, Greens and FDP – signed their 177-page coalition agreement on Tuesday, the new government is due to be sworn in on Wednesday.

First on the agenda in parliament will be voting in a range of new Covid measures such as a vaccine mandate for healthcare professionals and additional powers for German states to order restaurant and bar closures during the pandemic.

READ ALSO: Could German states order bar and restaurant closures under new Covid laws?

The new government will also hold a vote on whether the bring in compulsory Covid jabs for the general population.

Asked to share the coalition’s position on the issue, incoming Finance Minister and FDP leader Christian Lindner said the parties had “no fixed position”. Every MP will be able to vote with their conscience and across party lines, he explained. 

As of Tuesday, 69.1 percent of the German population was fully vaccinated, while 17.5 percent had received a booster jab.

The government is aiming to carry out 30 million jabs by Christmas as it seeks to dampen the Covid fourth wave.  

Member comments

  1. I do agree, even though I wouldn’t use such strong words, cause that is usually very off-putting for people. The hypocrisy is real though, and at this point in time I have no idea for what cause they are fighting. To claim that the only way to succeed in fighting covid is by getting as many people as possible vaccinated or to claim that the unvaccinated are to blame for the raising covid cases is just bogus and false. I suggest that people who are interested in facts and what real experts are thinking about this visit the webpage for Brownstone Institute. And before anyone calls me anti-vaxxer, I am indeed vaccinated, and I am also a fan of common sense, logic and the truth.

    1. The Brownstone Institute is a right-libertarian think-tank, which makes them “real experts” in a particular ideology, not public health.

      I think you’re wrong if you think an anarcho-capitalist society wouldn’t punish unvaccinated people. You know, health insurance companies use statistics to evaluate risks, they don’t like to lose money, and would hence quickly make it very difficult for anyone (except the super rich, who can afford it) to keep their insurances while being not vaccinated. The eventual consequences would be worse than not being allowed in bars, in my opinion.

      1. I do believe the Brownstone Institute looks at the facts and considers the good and the bad to help support sensible decision making. Sometimes the preventative actions taken by governments really do cause more harm than Covid itself. But we never see governments pointing all these things out. How can we support these decisions without being aware of all the facts? Take a look at Sweden to see a completely different approach closer to the kind of approach you’d expect from an honest government. They received a lot of criticism to begin with but turns out their decisions were better and are based on taking actions where they do the most good.

        1. I gave it a look and what I saw was contrarian articles, along the lines of “let’s do nothing, and people will do the right thing by themselves”. As always with libertarians, this is supported by facts and reason. In one of their recent articles, the author is unvaccinated and claims that his choice was “data-driven”. Give me a break. You might convince the average person, but I actually like to read scientific papers and statistics.

          What do you mean by “being aware of all the facts”? That’s more or less impossible, and not how science works. We don’t have all the facts, we work with what we have, and in light of new discoveries, we have to adapt. A lot of people don’t seem to like that.

          Until we come up with something else (which I hope we will), or the virus mutates to something more like common cold, having as many people vaccinated as possible is the best way to reduce deaths (especially in the 60+ age group, where it would be awesome to have close to 100% coverage, and boosters taken regularly).

          As for Sweden, they have 6-7x more deaths than similar countries like Norway & Finland. They didn’t do horribly, but I wouldn’t consider them such a great success either.

          1. You surely only gave this a cursory glance, which is unfortunate. That website is very much in line with the Great Barrington Declaration (see ) signed by over 60k scientists and medical professionals who are concerned about the sort of actions that are being taken which could be far worse than Covid itself. Unfortunately I think many people are easily swayed by information provided that doesn’t consider all sides of a discussion. Information provided by Governments and Pharmaceutical companies may well be accurate, but it may also ignore some aspects that would prevent the results the authors wish to deliver. I know you could say the same argument applies to Brownstone, and it does. So it’s a question of who do you believe to be presenting all the facts? I am suspicious of Governments and Pharmaceuticals… I’m less suspicious of Brownstone, and many other sources I consider legitimate.

          2. You might also find this article on Sweden interesting (see ). I’m not taking sides, I’m not anti-vaccination, I’m only presenting what I think is a more balanced approach to providing information which often contradicts the approach of some governments. I don’t think you can focus on just one thing and try to fix it without considering the harm you might be doing in implementing your chosen solution. It may be much worse.

  2. “claim that the unvaccinated are to blame for the raising corvid cases.”
    “because there’s no doubt whatsoever that it’s the people who aren’t vaccinated who are driving the high infection rates.”

    Unless they have discovered new rules regarding virology the claim is inflammatory, (pun not intended).
    So many spouting out about that for which they have insufficient knowledge and, in many cases, influenced by dubious vested interests.

  3. Who knew that The Local comment section would come to life, with misinformation. The majority of infected people in Germany are in fact unvaccinated and can see the data at the RKI website. Additionally, the great majority of transmission events involve an unvaccinated person (see – none of this is meant to stigmatize or shame the unvaccinated, by the way – it’s just the way it is 🤷‍♂️

    1. Not peer reviewed and some pretty heavy assumptions to estimate this. Might be accurate, might not be… but it’s hardly the way it is. Vaccines won’t prevent you getting it, but they may prevent you getting tested! Just saying…

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EXPLAINED: The new rules around getting a sick note over the phone in Germany

Due to high Covid infection numbers throughout the summer, it’s now possible to get a sick note from a doctor over the phone again for some illnesses. Here’s what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: The new rules around getting a sick note over the phone in Germany

What’s happened?

In spring 2020, German authorities changed the law so that people with a mild upper respiratory tract illness, such as the common cold, were able to get an incapacity to work certificate or AU-Bescheinigung by simply calling and speaking to their GP.

The rule was extended several times and finally reversed on June 1st this year due to falling infection figures. Since then people have had to go back to the practice – or do a video call if the doctor’s office has that system in place – to get a sick note.

Now, due to a decision by the Joint Federal Committee, the regulation has been reintroduced and patients can call their GP again for a sick note.

Can I get a sick note over the phone for any illness?

No. As before, the regulation only applies to patients suffering from a mild upper respiratory tract illness. Though Covid has not explicitly been named in the announcement, it seems that it is intended to be covered by the regulation.

If the doctor is convinced that the patient is unfit for work after a telephone consultation, then they can issue a sick note for up to seven days.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The changes around doctor’s notes in Germany you should know

If the symptoms persist after seven days, the certificate can be extended once more for another week.

Why now?

According to the Chairman of the G-BA, Josef Hecken, the regulation has been introduced now as a response to rising Covid numbers and in anticipation of the cold and flu season in the coming months: “We want to avoid full waiting rooms in doctors’ offices and the emergence of new infection chains,” he said.

The telephone sick leave rule is a simple, proven and uniform nationwide solution for that, he said. The rule is also necessary because video consultation hours are not yet available everywhere.

What else should I know?

The health insurer DAK is calling for telephone sick leave in the case of light respiratory diseases to be made possible on a permanent basis in Germany. DAK’s CEO Andreas Storm said that this should “not always be up for debate, because it has proven itself.” 

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about making a doctor’s appointment in Germany

The social association VdK also welcomed the reintroduction of the rule. The VdK’s President Verena Bentele said that the regulation would help to protect high-risk groups in particular from potential infections.

What are the rules to know about sick notes in Germany?

Germany has a strict system in place. If you are sick, you need to give your employer a Krankmeldung (notification of sickness) before the start of work on the first day (of your illness).

However, you also need to hand in a Krankschreibung (doctor’s note) on the fourth day of your illness. Some employments contracts, however, require you to submit a sick not earlier than the fourth day so check with your boss or HR on that point.