A sign with an entry only for “2G”, the term in Germany for people who are either vaccinated against Covid-19 or who have recently recovered from it.
Jens Schlueter | Getty Images
The German legislator has introduced new restrictions for unvaccinated people and plans to vote on the mandatory introduction of Covid vaccines.
National and regional heads of state and government agreed on Thursday to ban the unvaccinated population of Germany from all non-essential businesses such as bars, restaurants and cinemas in order to promote the uptake of vaccines.
Additional measures are also being taken to contain the spread of the virus, including restrictions on live sports viewers, additional tests for those vaccinated and masking requirements in schools.
Data from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control shows that 68.4% of the German population are fully vaccinated, which is just above the EU-wide vaccination rate of 66%.
More than 1 million Covid vaccines were administered in Germany on Thursday, the vast majority of which were booster doses.
In the last 28 days, Germany had the second highest number of new Covid-19 cases worldwide after the USA. The country had more than 1.3 million positive tests and 6,222 deaths from the virus in the past four weeks, according to Johns Hopkins University.
On Thursday there were 73,209 new cases of the coronavirus in Germany, which, according to the Robert Koch Institute, means an incidence of 439 per 100,000 people. Last week, a record 79,051 positive tests were reported in a single day.
Meanwhile, 321 people with Covid-19 were admitted to Germany’s intensive care units on Thursday, with 21% of hospital beds being occupied by Covid patients.
Both the German DAX index and the pan-European Stoxx 600 index traded slightly lower on Friday morning after it was revealed that part of the country’s population would be excluded from full participation in the economy.
Is there a threat of a vaccination order?
SPD General Secretary Lars Klingbeil told ZDF on Friday that if the new measures did not reduce the number of cases sufficiently, politicians would have to “act immediately”.
Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday that a law was being drafted to make Covid vaccination compulsory in Germany, adding that lawmakers would vote on it by February. Her successor, Olaf Scholz, said he was awaiting approval of the proposal and would personally support the introduction of a vaccine mandate.
Several German legislators have already openly called for mandatory vaccination in recent weeks. One wrote a comment on how such a mandate would prevent “13 million adults from bringing an industrial nation like Germany to the brink of despair”.
Neighbor Austria has already announced that it will introduce compulsory vaccinations for its population from February.
Austria was the first country in Europe to introduce the regulation, but not the first country in the world. Last February, Indonesia made the Covid-19 vaccination mandatory for its citizens. Turkmenistan, Saudi Arabia and the small island nation of Micronesia have introduced similar measures.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told reporters earlier this week that the time had come for the EU to consider compulsory vaccinations to combat the rise in infections.
Outlook for Germany
Ralf Reintjes, professor of epidemiology at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, casts doubt on whether the new measures in Germany were stringent enough to slow down the transmission of the virus.
“I am very happy that the first steps in the right direction have been taken. It is more than urgent that new measures come, contacts are reduced and people are vaccinated, ”he told CNBC’s Street Signs Europe on Friday.
“On the other hand, I’m not so sure – like many of my colleagues, we ask ourselves whether these measures are effective enough in this critical phase to reduce this wave. It would have been better to have these measures earlier. “
Berenberg chief economist Holger Schmieding is more optimistic about the situation in Germany.
“The German [vaccination] Rate continues to rise and exceeds 0.8% [of the population per day] so far, “he said in a note on Friday.” There remains a tail risk that Germany may have to follow Austria into a complete lockdown. However, the progress made in vaccination and the first signs of a peak in registered infections seem to reduce this risk. “