Unvaccinated may face restrictions in Germany, Merkel’s chief of staff warns

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Unvaccinated people could be barred from restaurants and cinemas if Germany is hit by a major fourth wave of Covid infections, according to Angela Merkel’s chief of staff.

Helge Braun, the minister for special affairs and head of the Chancellery, said the restrictions might be necessary in future “because the residual risk is too high”.

In an interview with the newspaper Bild am Sonntag, he warned that cases were rising by 60 per cent each week and that the nation could reach 100,000 new infections per day by the end of September.

“If we got such a high fourth wave, it would not remain without effects,” he said. “The sickness rate would reach historic highs. All unvaccinated contact persons of the many infected people would first have to be quarantined. The effects on the work processes in the companies would be massive. We are already seeing that in the UK.”

He said that he did not expect another “classic lockdown” in Germany because of the effectiveness of vaccines against the Delta variant.

However, social distancing and mask rules would still be needed and if cases continued to rise “unvaccinated people would have to reduce their contacts”, he added.

“This can also mean that certain offers such as restaurant, cinema and stadium visits would no longer be possible,” Mr Braun said.

He added that getting vaccinated is important to protect against severe disease and also because “vaccinated people will definitely have more freedoms than unvaccinated people”.

Mr Braun said these measures would be legal because “the state has the responsibility to protect the health of its citizens”.

Nearly 61 per cent of the German population has received at least one vaccine dose while more than 49 per cent are fully vaccinated.

Similar restrictions for unvaccinated people have already been introduced in France, where entry to cinemas, museums or sports matches requires proof of vaccination or a recent negative test. The “health pass” will be extended to restaurants, cafes and shopping centres in August.

President Macron has also announced mandatory vaccination for health workers by September.

Ms Merkel recently said there were no plans for vaccine requirements in Germany “at the moment” but added: “I’m not ruling out that this might be talked about differently in a few months either.”

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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