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Germany won’t pay unvaccinated workers in quarantine

file photo: people queue to receive a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (covid 19) at the arena treptow vaccination centre in berlin
File Photo: People queue to receive a vaccine against the coronavirus disease in Germany

German health authorities are planning new rules under which unvaccinated workers would not receive compensation for lost pay if coronavirus measures forced them to quarantine, according to a draft decision by state health ministries.

The rules would come into force from Oct. 11 at the latest, a draft document seen by Reuters showed.

The rules would affect people who test positive for the virus and those returning from trips to countries designated “high risk” for COVID-19, which now include Britain, Turkey and parts of France.

Unvaccinated travellers from such countries are required to quarantine for at least five days. Those who are vaccinated or recently recovered are not.

Critics have said such rules would be equivalent to a mandate for COVID-19 vaccinations because many workers cannot afford to stay at home without pay.

There are also privacy concerns. Germany has tough laws regulating data privacy because of its history of Nazi and Communist state surveillance of citizens, and employers usually have no right to ask staff for information about their health issues.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn said the proposed rules were not intended to put pressure on Germans to be vaccinated but rather that it was a matter of fairness.

“Why should others pay for someone who decides not to be vaccinated?” he told broadcaster ZDF.

Vaccinations are not compulsory in Germany but authorities have been taking measures that make it increasingly inconvenient to be unvaccinated.

COVID-19 tests, required for example to dine in indoor restaurants, will stop being free of charge from Oct. 11.

Also, some German states are allowing businesses such as restaurants or sports stadiums to choose whether to allow in people with negative tests, or only those who have been vaccinated or have recently recovered from COVID-19.

Germany has fully vaccinated 74% of adults, compared to 72.3% across the European Union as a whole, official figures show.

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