Someone, somewhere is aggrieved.
Germany on Thursday agreed to institute sweeping restrictions on the unvaccinated in an effort to put the brakes on the country’s latest COVID wave.
Incoming chancellor Olaf Scholz issued what he called a “personal appeal” to those who haven’t yet received a shot. “Those who have not been vaccinated must do so,” he said.
Angela Merkel called the situation “very serious.” Her consultations with state officials will likely be her last as chancellor. The meeting was held via teleconference.
In all likelihood, Germany will follow Austria in adopting a compulsory nationwide vaccine mandate. A measure to make shots mandatory is expected to pass parliament.
In the meantime, the unvaccinated won’t be confined to their homes. But they won’t be permitted to shop for anything other than bare necessities. Or at least not in person. Proof of vaccination or documentation of recovery will be required for entry into restaurants, theaters and non-essential stores. Absent such proof, meetings between more than two households are forbidden — in public or at home.
Readers are familiar with the “state of exception” in markets, wherein central banks suspend the rules in order to restore normal functioning. It’s a paradox. These restrictions are the state of exception in its original meaning.
Earlier this week, Scholz backed instituting a mandate “not too far away in the future.” He mentioned the “beginning of March” as a possible deadline and said lawmakers will need to grapple with “an issue of conscience” in deciding whether to back compulsory shots. As The New York Times noted, Scholz will “free lawmakers in his coalition from having to vote with their parties” when the bill comes to parliament.
Daily cases in Germany are off the charts — literally. At no time during the pandemic has the situation approximated the scope of the current wave (figure below).
At 68%, Germany’s vaccination rate is higher than the EU average, but lower than France, Spain and the UK.
On Tuesday, Scholz said he can’t “callously watch” as the situation spirals further out of control. “If we had a higher vaccination rate, we’d have a different situation,” he remarked, flatly.
Late last month, Forsa carried out a poll on behalf of the German Health Ministry. 65% of unvaccinated respondents said that “under no circumstances” would they be vaccinated within the next two months.
It’s a good thing the proposed start date on a prospective mandate is two and a half months away.