BERLIN — The authorities in Germany are considering reinstating some restrictions for adults who are not vaccinated against Covid-19 if daily infections substantially increase in the coming months.
In an interview on Sunday with Bild, Germany’s most widely read tabloid, Dr. Helge Braun, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff, said, “Vaccinated people will definitely have more freedom than unvaccinated people.”
Dr. Braun’s statement came a little more than a week after President Emmanuel Macron of France made clear that the lives of unvaccinated people would get progressively less comfortable, touching off a debate about whether government policies in Europe were using persuasion or coercion to get people vaccinated. The British government has also said that it will begin requiring proof of vaccination for large events in England.
The announcement by one of Ms. Merkel’s top lieutenants exemplified the narrow line lawmakers and officials are trying to navigate in pressuring the public to get their shots without making immunizations mandatory.
In a TV interview broadcast on Sunday evening, Armin Laschet, leader of Ms. Merkel’s conservative party and a likely candidate to replace her as chancellor when she steps down this year, staked out his position. “I don’t believe in mandatory vaccinations, and I don’t believe in indirectly pressuring people to get vaccinated,” he said.
This coming Sunday, a vocal group of Covid and vaccine skeptics are scheduled to demonstrate in Berlin. That movement has been warning of “forced vaccinations” since before shots were available.
Although the German authorities are currently only reporting 14 new infections per 100,000 over a week, the numbers are rising. In his interview, Dr. Braun, who is also a medical doctor, predicted that infections could hit 100,000 a day within months if no measures were taken.
“This could also mean that certain offerings such as restaurant, movie and stadium visits would no longer be possible even for tested unvaccinated people because the residual risk is too high,” he said.
Currently, those who are fully vaccinated are treated in the same way as those who can present a negative coronavirus test that is not more than a day old.
As of this weekend, about 61 percent the population has received at least one vaccine dose and nearly half of the population is fully vaccinated.
“This is not discrimination against the unvaccinated,” Horst Seehofer, the country’s interior minister, said in a TV interview broadcast Monday.
“But,” he added, “the unvaccinated person also needs to realize that we need to protect the community as a whole and therefore can only allow the vaccinated to attend major community events.”