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Germany moves to relax COVID-19 curbs for vaccinated people

/ 12:19 PM April 27, 2021

German Chancellor Angela Merkel puts on her face mask after addressing a press conference following talks with Germany’s state premiers about the current situation of the vaccination campaign in Germany, at the Chancellery in Berlin on April 26, 2021. (Photo by Michael Kappeler / POOL / AFP)

BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday that the German government was looking at relaxing restrictions for people who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, as the pace of inoculations picks up.

Speaking after talks with the regional premiers of Germany’s 16 states, Merkel said people who have received both jabs should “obviously” be allowed to get a haircut or go into a shop without having to show a negative coronavirus test, and be exempt from quarantining after close contact with an infected person.

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The same would apply to people who can prove they have recovered from a coronavirus infection, for instance by showing a positive PCR test that is at least 28 days old.

The government would prepare a decree setting out its proposals, she told a Berlin press conference, which will then be discussed in parliament.

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The veteran leader did not give a timeframe for when the relaxations might come into force.

Merkel said the move to give those with Covid immunity back some of their basic rights comes after the country’s Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases recently found that fully vaccinated people and those who have recovered, “no longer pose a relevant infection danger”.

But she warned that Germany faced a “difficult transition phase” as a growing number of people get their shots and will be hungry for more freedoms, while a significant part of the population will still be living with tough restrictions.

Just seven percent of the population has so far received both doses of a Covid vaccine in Germany and around 23 percent have had their first jab, but the pace of the rollout is accelerating as doctors’ offices receive more vaccine doses.

Merkel reiterated that she expected Germany would be able to ditch its strict vaccine priority list in June and allow every adult to seek a jab.

The hopeful mood comes despite a vicious third coronavirus wave that has seen German case numbers stabilize at a very high level.

Germany at the weekend imposed a nationwide “emergency brake” that includes sweeping shutdowns and school closures in hard-hit regions to bring down infections.

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“Several more weeks of efforts are necessary,” Merkel told reporters.

Although it was important to give people back their basic rights “as soon as possible”, she said, “we will have to live with the virus for a long while to come.”

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