THORMANN: How Germany’s Vaccine Mandates Look from the Inside


Friday, December 10, 2021

Several weeks ago, Germany’s new chancellor, Olaf Scholz, announced that his government will introduce and pass a sweeping law requiring compulsory vaccination for the general adult population. This has been the latest step of several measures designed to force the unvaccinated to get a shot. 

Over the summer, when infection rates had gone down, lockdowns were replaced in many cases by so-called “3G” rules. “3G” stands for “getestet, geimpft, genesen” which is German for “tested, vaccinated, or recovered (in the last 6 months).” You had to fulfill one of those three requirements to eat indoors or go see a movie. The summer also saw the introduction of EU-wide vaccination passports with QR codes which waiters would scan before they allow you inside. Proof of negative tests could also be used in lieu of vaccination status. This obviously placed some burden on unvaccinated people to get tested every time they went out for indoor dining. In the summer, however, the situation was less harsh as people commonly ate outside and testing, if needed, was also free. 

Both of these things changed in the fall as the weather cooled and the government moved to end funding for testing. With rising infection rates, which is unsurprising given apparent seasonality of the virus, pressure on the unvaccinated increased. Now there was increasing chatter about “2G” rules, where the “G” meaning “tested” was dropped. Soon, this was implemented for indoor dining. You now had to be vaccinated, or recovered in the last six months, to be allowed in–testing was no longer a way out. Everyone who doesn’t have a vaccine passport is prohibited from entering these locations.

While politicians of all parties had pledged before the September 24th federal election that they would not support vaccine mandates, many now enthusiastically support placing further restrictions on the unvaccinated. As infection rates and hospitalizations further soared, the term “pandemic of the unvaccinated” was coined with some taking it further by declaring the uptick to be the “tyranny of the unvaccinated.”

The “lockdown for the unvaccinated” was next. This basically means that the use of “2G” became more widespread and unvaccinated are denied entry to retail stores, gyms, universities, etc. The only exception being supermarkets where you have to go to buy food. 

Here in Bavaria, the south-eastern state of Germany, restrictions even for the vaccinated were increased. Bars and clubs were ordered to close altogether. Christmas markets were banned just days before the first weekend that they were supposed to open. Gyms had to implement a new “2G+” rule, where you have to be vaccinated or recovered and additionally tested every time you go there. In some German states, booster shots will now exempt you from that additional testing requirement. 

Compulsory vaccination has been announced as the next step following Austria’s decision to implement such a policy several weeks earlier. Everyone who won’t be vaccinated at some deadline in Spring 2022 will then face monthly fines in addition to all the existing measures keeping unvaccinated people out of most places of everyday life. One of the most astonishing aspects of the political situation in Germany on the issue of lockdowns and vaccinations is the pace at which so many parties abandoned their pre-election promises. Take the FDP, the Free Democratic Party, for example. This historically classically-liberal party that campaigned on an “anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine mandate” platform now joins the leftist Greens and SPD who propose compulsory vaccination. One of the FDP’s state parties even prominently changed its Twitter profile picture even from “Free Democrats” to “Vaccinated Democrats” to promote vaccinations.

“Pro-vaccine but anti-mandate” is a sensible position, and it previously was the mainstream across all parties in Germany just this summer, but within months after the election it all but disappeared. 

Sebastian Thormann is studying Information Systems at the University of Passau, Germany. He is interested in US and German politics as well as economics. His other hobbies include coding, skiing, and playing the piano.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.

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About Sebastian Thormann

Sebastian Thormann is studying Information Systems at the University of Passau, Germany. He is interested in US and German politics as well as economics. His other hobbies include coding, skiing, and playing the piano.

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