German health authorities call for caution as restrictions set to be eased

Photo: EPA Health Minister Jens Spahn

German health authorities called for caution as the country moved on Friday to ease restrictions on residents who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus or who have recovered after falling ill, dpa reported.

"The third wave appears to have broken," Health Minister Jens Spahn said, while noting that infection numbers remained high. The downward trend had to be maintained, he said, "but that will not happen with overhasty lifting of restrictions."

More than 31% of the population had received the first shot of vaccine, the official disease control body the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) said on Friday, with 8.8% now being fully vaccinated.

RKI president Lothar Wieler called for patience and cautious steps towards reopening. The vaccinations led to hope that Germany "will soon be able to control the pandemic," he said. "The pandemic is much like a balloon filled with air that we are keeping under water together," Wieler said. This was a joint effort, and if all restrictions were lifted suddenly, the virus would spread rapidly again, he predicted.

Nevertheless, Germans were looking forward to a weekend without restrictions after the relevant legislation passed the upper house of parliament earlier on Friday.

There were hopes that the law could be signed by the president and published in the government gazette by the end of the day. It was approved by the lower house on Thursday.

The new measures will allow these people to meet in unlimited numbers, and they will not be counted in the total when meeting others who have not been vaccinated.

Restrictions on being out after 10 pm – the night-time curfew has been among the most resented restrictions – will also fall away for the two groups. Nevertheless, masks and social distancing will continue to be imposed and in particular situations and buildings.

The provisions do not apply to people infected with mutations of the virus that are not widespread in Germany.

More on this subject: Coronavirus

Similar articles

  • Austria welcomes only vaccinated skiers

    Austria welcomes only vaccinated skiers

    Austria hopes for a safe ski season this year as the country is likely to admit only vaccinated tourists. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz confirmed that if the Covid-19 situation gets worse and the number of new cases rises, only vaccinated guests will get access to ski establishments, dpa reported. In Austria, 70 per cent of people over age 12 are vaccinated and most tourists are too, Kurz said.

  • France recalls envoys over diplomatic row with US, Australia

    France recalls envoys over diplomatic row with US, Australia

    France stepped up a diplomatic row with US and Australia over a failed contract which resulted in dumped security deal concerning building and delivery of submarines to Canberra. Paris recalled its ambassadors in US and Australia, Reuters reported. The decision taken by President Emmanuel Macron was made due to the "exceptional gravity" of the matter, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said.