Coronavirus Numbers rise – Government hits brakes on COVID-19 vaccination mandate
Omicron is spreading rapidly in Germany. Government says there is no easy way forward for a mandate decision.
SPD and the Green Party politicians this weekend dampened expectations that the Bundestag would reach a swift decision on compulsory vaccinations against COVID-19. Further, it is unclear when such a regulation would come into effect. SPD parliamentary group vice-chairman Dirk Wiese told Berlin's Tagesspiegel: “We should be finished with the deliberations in the Bundestag by the end of the first quarter of 2022.” He added that this was an ambitious timetable. With a view to possible delays, he said that compulsory vaccination was "on the horizon as a precautionary measure for the coming autumn and winter".
The parliamentary group leader of the Greens in the Bundestag, Britta Haßelmann, stressed: "This is not an easy decision, it would be a big intervention." She said that the parliamentary groups must first discuss any ideas there are. "And then we can debate it in the Bundestag in late January," Haßelmann told the newspapers of the Funke Mediengruppe. Federal Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP), on the other hand, told Bild am Sonntag: "The Bundestag should decide quickly." However, MPs would also have to take the time for careful consideration.
Opposition parties CDU and CSU are pushing for speed. The designated CDU leader Friedrich Merz wants the traffic light coalition to come up with a timetable and concrete proposals on compulsory vaccination. The federal government must say "what it actually wants, and then present this to the Bundestag", Merz said in Düsseldorf on Saturday. Bavaria's Health Minister Klaus Holetschek (CSU) also called for a quick decision. "We must finally conduct this discussion clearly and, above all in a goal-oriented manner and not lose any more time," he told Bavarian media.
The majority of citizens are in favour of a vaccination mandate, according to the Insa opinion research institute. In a survey, 61 per cent were in favour of a vaccination mandate, 32 per cent were against, and 7 per cent did not specify.
Meanwhile, the number of infections is once again clearly on the rise. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported another increase in the nationwide seven-day incidence on Sunday, quoting the figure of 362.7 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants and week. The previous day, the figure had been 335.9. A week ago, the nationwide incidence rate was 222.7. The numbers are set to rise further.
In the state capital Düsseldorf, several thousand people demonstrated on Saturday against the measures to contain the Coronavirus pandemic. According to the police, the participants gathered for a rally at Johannes-Rau-Platz near the NRW state parliament. Afterwards, the procession moved for more than five kilometres through the extended city centre area. There were also rallies and marches in Aachen, Arnsberg and Bielefeld (Friday).
In Minden, East Westphalia, about 2500 people marched through the city centre, demonstrating against so-called "Querdenker". They were also reacting to demonstrations against Coronavirus measures that took place last Monday in front of the house of Anna Katharina Bölling (CDU), Minden-Lübbecke district administrator.
The rallies remained peaceful. A Düsseldorf police spokesperson said that the participants had mostly observed pandemic safety regulations.