COVID-19: Mandatory coronavirus vaccines in Germany ‘unavoidable’, says country’s tourism commissioner

Germany’s tourism commissioner says he expects COVID-19 vaccines will become mandatory in the country, as cases surge there and elsewhere in Europe.

Thomas Bareiss said the increasingly worsening situation in his nation makes it clear that sooner or later coronavirus inoculations will be compulsory and will be “unavoidable”.

He said it was wrong not to make COVID jabs mandatory from the start – but the decision not to at the time was “understandable”.

Neighbour Austria has said that vaccines will be mandatory from 1 February.

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Restrictions are being introduced across the continent as infections soar and winter sets in.

Austria and the Netherlands have gone back into forms of lockdown, sparking unrest in the past few days.

Germany’s states are introducing restrictions as well, with some regions cancelling their Christmas markets or banning the sale of alcohol.

The nationwide seven-day rate of infections currently stands at 362.2 per 100,000 population – with the peak during last year’s lockdown being 197.6. A number of states have a much higher figure than the national average, including Saxony at at 793.7.

Mr Bariess, who is a member of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, advises the federal government on their tourism policy.

He told the German news agency, DPA: “In retrospect, it was wrong not to see that (compulsory vaccinations) right from the start. The hope at that time is understandable, but it was not realistic.

“For me it is politically no longer justifiable that entire industries, retailers, restaurants, clubs, bars and the entire cinema, cultural and event scene live in a state of crisis prescribed by the state for 20 months and are faced with great existential fears, while others are concerned take the freedom not to vaccinate.”

And Daniel Gunther, the CDU minister president of the Schleswig-Holstein state, told Die Welt that he would be prepared to introduce a mandate – and that blanket lockdowns are no longer “appropriate” as they were in times before vaccines.

Tilman Kuban, head of the youth wing of the CDU, said: “We need de facto compulsory vaccination and a lockdown for the unvaccinated.”

The CDU are not expected to be a part of the ruling coalition come December, as the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), the libertarian Free Democrats (FDP) and the Greens all negotiate to form a government – with the SPD’s Olaf Scholz expected to take over as chancellor.

He wants to debate compulsory jabs for health workers – similar to the situation in the UK – although the FDP oppose this as they are more ideologically supportive of individual freedom.

Earlier today, the UK’s health secretary, Sajid Javid, ruled out broad compulsory vaccines in the UK.

“We are fortunate that in this country, although we have vaccine hesitancy, it is a lot lower than we are seeing in other places,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.

“I just think on a practical level, taking a vaccine should be a positive choice. It should be something, if people are a bit reluctant, we should work with them and encourage them.

“In terms of mandatory vaccines for the general population I don’t think that is something we would ever look at.”

According to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, 69% of the UK population is fully vaccinated, while 68% of Germans are double jabbed.

Mr Javid told Sky News that England is still well within the government’s Plan A – and the country is “not at the point to take further measures” like the increased mask wearing and working from home requirements set out in Plan B.

He added that England decided to open up more than other countries in the summer – which Mr Javid said was the “best” and “safer” time to do it.

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