vaccine

Mobile vaccination stations are being used to administer jabs in Cologne

People who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 will no longer have to abide by curfews and contact restrictions in Germany under a draft law agreed by the cabinet on Tuesday.

The law, which would also apply to people who have recovered from Covid-19, must still be signed off by parliament but could come into force as early as this week, Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht said.

There must be a “good reason” for any restrictions on public life, Lambrecht said.

“As soon as this reason ceases to exist… these restrictions should then no longer be in place,” she said.

Under national measures introduced in April, areas of Germany with an incidence rate of more than 100 new infections per 100,000 people over the last seven days must introduce overnight curfews and people may only meet with one other person from another household during the day.

But people who have been vaccinated, or who have recovered from Covid and therefore have natural immunity, should in future be exempt from these rules, Lambrecht said.

The draft law seen by AFP would also exempt vaccinated and recovered people from quarantine rules for people returning from abroad, even from areas deemed high risk.

No more tests

Areas of Germany with incidence rates under 100 are currently allowed to open shops, restaurants, cinemas and other facilities, but only to people who can provide a negative test.

Under the new regulations, vaccinated and recovered people would also be exempt from this requirement.

Some German states, including Berlin and Bavaria, have already announced plans to scrap the negative test requirement for vaccinated people when they go shopping or visit the hairdresser.

The Bavarian cabinet on Tuesday also signed off a plan to allow hotels, holiday homes and campsites to open in regions with low incidence rates from 21 May.

However, Bavaria’s iconic Oktoberfest beer festival, which usually attracts millions annually in September and October, will be cancelled this year for the second year running.

Germany has been in some form of virus shutdown since November, with numbers of new infections remaining consistently high amid an initially sluggish vaccination campaign.

But the campaign has since picked up pace, with more than a million jabs issued in one day last week, and new infection numbers have started to come down.

The Robert Koch Institute health agency recorded 7,534 new infections in the past 24 hours on Tuesday and 315 deaths, with a national incidence rate of 141.4.

But despite these successes, critics say it is too soon to be lifting restrictions.

Ute Teichert, the head of the Federal Association of German Public Health Officers, said it was “imperative that vaccinated people continue to be tested”.

“Without comprehensive testing, we will lose sight of the incidence of infections – especially with regard to virus variants,” she told the Funke media group on Tuesday.

MP and epidemiologist Karl Lauterbach said it was reasonable to lift some restrictions for vaccinated people, but restaurants, bars and other facilities should not be reopened just for them.

“We must not make the mistake of jeopardising the successes achieved by the national ’emergency brake’,” he warned, referring to the national restrictive measures introduced in April.

Demark to reopen schools and permit range of indoor activities

Denmark has announced plans to reopen schools and allow a range of indoor activities this week, but a cap on gatherings led to the cancellation of several summer music festivals, including the renowned Roskilde Festival.

The Nordic country has avoided a third wave of Covid-19 with broad lockdown measures introduced in late December, which drove down daily infections from several thousand to between 500 and 800 in recent months.

“Denmark needs to get back to normal as fast as possible, and it has to happen responsibly,” Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said today.

Older primary school students in Denmark will also be allowed to return full-time

Under the new plan agreed between the government and most politicians, theatres, concert venues, cinemas and gyms can reopen this Thursday, 6 May.

Older primary school students will also be allowed to return to school full-time.

The limit on indoor public gatherings will be raised from 10 to 25 people, although schools are exempted from this cap.

The outdoor limit is generally being raised from 50 to 75 people, but a specific cap of 2,000 attendees at outdoor concerts will rule out many events, including Roskilde, one of Europe’s largest music and culture festivals, which said it would not be going ahead this year.

Entrance to many reopened facilities is dependent on showing a “corona passport”, that shows that holders have either been vaccinated, previously infected or have had a negative test in the past 72 hours.

Denmark has fully vaccinated 11.5% of its population.

Denmark is due to host four European Soccer Championship matches this summer, and will allow up to around 16,000 spectators at the events.

Poland easing restrictions as third wave weakens

Poland is easing its pandemic restrictions from today as the country’s third coronavirus wave continues to weaken.

Shopping centres and museums are reopening and primary school classes are resuming nationwide, although the number of pupils will be restricted.

Just a few weeks ago Poland’s health system had been overwhelmed but yesterday the country recorded its lowest number of new Covid infections in three months.

In total, the country of 38 million has reported 2,805,756 cases and 68,105 deaths.

Poland’s vaccination rollout is also starting to accelerate following a boost in vaccine supplies.

Poland administrated 1.6 million doses, for a total of nearly 12 million since vaccinations began.

Nearly 3m Poles, 7.7% of the population, have been fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, Sweden, which has shunned lockdowns throughout the pandemic, has registered 14,950 new coronavirus cases since Friday, health agency statistics showed on Tuesday.

The figure compared with 14,911 cases during the corresponding period last week.

The country of 10 million inhabitants registered 43 new deaths, taking the total to 14,091. The deaths registered have occurred over several days and sometimes weeks.

Sweden’s death rate per capita is many times higher than that of its Nordic neighbours’ but lower than in most European countries that opted for lockdowns.

EMA opens review of China’s Sinovac coronavirus jab

The European Medicines Agency said it has started a “rolling review” of China’s Sinovac coronavirus jab, a process that could lead to eventual approval for the European market.

The EMA’s human medicines committee’s “decision to start the rolling review is based on preliminary results from laboratory studies (non-clinical data) and clinical studies,” the Amsterdam-based agency said.

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