ROUNDUP / Steinmeier warns: ‘Compulsory vaccination means compulsory debate’

BERLIN (dpa-AFX) – In the struggle for a general corona vaccination, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has called for a careful discussion. “Such an extraordinary measure also puts our state in an extraordinary duty before its citizens. In short: compulsory vaccination means compulsory debate,” said the head of state on Wednesday in Berlin. There is still a dispute about the schedule and the procedure for the deliberations in the Bundestag. Additional vaccination doses are available for vaccinations until the beginning of February. The number of new infections skyrocketed.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz is hoping for a quick consultation in the Bundestag about compulsory vaccinations. “In any case, I consider it necessary and will actively work for it,” said the SPD politician on Wednesday in his first government survey. Not to be vaccinated is not a personal decision, but has consequences for the whole country. Most recently, clinics had to cancel operations to make room for corona patients. “There is no decision that you make for yourself, and that is why compulsory vaccination is also important.”

The coalition of the SPD, FDP and the Greens is planning a free vote without parliamentary group specifications on mandatory vaccination. Greens parliamentary group leader Britta Haßelmann said on ZDF on Wednesday: “We are in talks with other members of other parliamentary groups in order to determine the key points.” After an “orientation debate” in the Bundestag in the week from January 24th, she reckons that Parliament will “be confronted with several group motions very quickly”.

SPD parliamentary group leader Rolf Mützenich has announced a specific proposal from the SPD for the end of January. This should be the basis for a group proposal together with parliamentarians from other groups. Chancellor Scholz had named the introduction of compulsory vaccinations by the beginning of February or beginning of March as the goal, while the SPD had a resolution “in the first quarter” as the time frame. The opposition Union, on the other hand, is calling for the government to draft its own law.

With the spread of the Omikron variant, the number of new cases recorded in one day exceeded the threshold of 80,000 for the first time, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). The health authorities now reported 80,430 cases. A week ago there were 58,912, although there were gaps in tests and reports at the turn of the year. The RKI now gave the seven-day incidence as 407.5. The previous day, the number of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days was 387.9. The high was reached at the end of November at 452.4.

FDP parliamentary group leader Christian Dürr suggested that a “mandatory vaccination on trial” be examined. “The vaccination requirement could only be introduced for a limited period, for example for a year,” he told the “Rheinische Post” (Wednesday). But he has not yet committed himself.

Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) spoke out in principle for a duty. “Since unfortunately all the advertising and soliciting did not lead to a sufficiently high vaccination rate, we now need proof of vaccination,” she told the weekly newspaper “Die Zeit”. In the legal sense, it is not about a compulsory vaccination: “Nobody will be vaccinated compulsorily.” But there will “have to be some form of sanction, perhaps fines.”

According to the RKI, at least 60 million people or 72.2 percent of the total population have now received full basic protection with the second injection that is usually required for the vaccinations. In addition, a booster vaccination has now been given to at least around 36.8 million people who have been vaccinated, or 44.2 percent of all residents. Around 714,000 vaccine doses were injected on Tuesday.

The federal government has organized a further five million doses of Biontech (BioNTech (ADRs)) to accelerate the vaccinations. They should be available from the week of January 24th, according to the Ministry of Health. The cans are bought from an EU quota in Romania, which they do not need. In total, around 32 million cans should be available in the three weeks of January 17, January 24 and January 31 – twelve million from Biontech and 20 million from Moderna.

The cabinet launched the legal framework for the planned new corona quarantine rules on Wednesday. This should apply in the future: “Anyone who is boosted no longer has to be in quarantine as a contact person in the event of an infection,” said Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD). This also applies to the Omikron variant. Booster vaccinations make double sense: “It makes everyday life easier. And it protects against infection or serious illness.”

The federal and state governments had basically agreed the new regulations last week. A corresponding ordinance, which the cabinet has now decided, is intended to determine which general exceptions there can be from quarantine as a contact person for infected people and from isolation as self-infected people if you have been vaccinated or have recovered. The ordinance is to come to the Bundestag this Thursday, and the Bundesrat will deal with it on Friday. It is expected to come into force on Saturday. Ultimately, the rules are then implemented by the federal states. / Sam / sk / sku / mfi / höz / DP / eas

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