BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany should demand proof of vaccination or recent recovery from COVID-19 for all indoor leisure activities, and require vaccinated people to also present a negative test for risky environments, a regional leader said on Tuesday.
Hendrik Wuest, the premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, made the comments before leaders of Germany’s 16 federal states hold a meeting on Thursday to discuss how to respond to a new surge in COVID-19 cases.
Germany recorded 32,048 new infections on Tuesday, a rise of 47% compared to a week ago, and another 265 deaths, bringing Germany’s total during the pandemic to 97,980.
Wuest, who chairs the body that groups Germany’s regional premiers, said he would press on Thursday for the whole country to allow only vaccinated people or those who have recovered from COVID-19 to access leisure-sector facilities, in some cases paired with a negative test.
Several German regions, including the capital Berlin, have already introduced such a rule, in effect excluding non-vaccinated people from places such as cinemas, hairdressers, restaurants and fitness studios.
Berlin is also considering requiring negative tests and proof of vaccination from next week.
It is not clear who should be responsible for policing the new rules. Berlin mayor Michael Mueller called on city officials to check vaccine passports rather than issue parking tickets.
“It isn’t a matter of illegal parking but human lives,” he was quoted as saying in the Berliner Zeitung daily.
The new wave of infections is challenging a government in transition, with three parties negotiating to form the next cabinet after September’s federal election.
Neighbouring Austria imposed a lockdown on people unvaccinated against the new coronavirus on Monday.
Germany’s vaccination rate, at 68%, is among the lowest in western Europe.
(Reporting by Emma Thomasson, Editing by Timothy Heritage)