Germany could make COVID test or vaccine mandatory for public transport

A “2G” rule sign, allowing only people vaccinated or cured of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to enter restaurants and other indoor spaces, is displayed at the entrance of a restaurant in Berlin, in Germany, November 15, 2021. REUTERS / Annegret Hilse

BERLIN – Want to take the bus or train in Germany?

You may need to provide a negative COVID-19 test or proof of recent vaccination or recovery soon, as the country becomes the last in Europe to consider drastic measures to deal with a further increase in cases in the region.

Germany saw another record high rate of cases over the past week on Monday, as more rallies indoors due to cold weather and flat vaccination campaigns make Europe the epicenter of the pandemic.

This fourth wave of infection challenges a government in transition, with three parties negotiating to form the next cabinet after the inconclusive elections in September.

Center-left Social Democrats, Greens and the pro-business FDP said on Monday they would add tougher measures to their bill being considered by the Bundestag (lower house of parliament) to deal with the outbreak .

The so-called 3G rules requiring a negative COVID-19 test, or proof of recovery or vaccination should apply to public transport as well as to workplaces, according to a policy document from the three parties.

It was not clear how they would be applied.

“To quickly and forcefully break the fourth wave, we have agreed (…) new rules,” Greens lawmaker Kathrin Goering-Eckardt said on Twitter.

However, she told reporters later that there had been no agreement on compulsory vaccination in certain areas such as nursing homes, pointing to a split in the potential government between her party and the SPD of a on the one hand, and the more libertarian FDP on the other.

The proposal for new borders in Germany came as the Austrian government on Monday imposed a lockdown on people not vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Some other European countries require passengers to provide proof of vaccination or testing for long-distance travel on public transport. But it is not known if others need it for urban transport.

The Bundestag is due to vote on the bill on Thursday so that it can enter into force before the expiration of the German state of emergency on November 25, which provided the legal basis for previous pandemic measures.

In addition to national rules, the new law aims to give the 16 German states a toolbox of options that they can apply separately, given that the rate of infection varies widely across the country. Higher rates can be detected in regions with the lowest vaccination rates, namely eastern and southern Germany.

But the new bill excludes measures such as school closures and curfews enforced in previous waves of the pandemic, sparking criticism from some policymakers that this decreases the perception of risk and reduces risk. flexibility.

Germany’s vaccination rate, at 67%, is among the lowest in Western Europe, which could threaten its relatively strong performance to date in the fight against the pandemic.

So far, it has recorded around 1,164 deaths per million people from COVID-19, compared to the average 1,828 for the European Union, according to Nov. 14 data from Our World in Data.

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