Germany to Stop Paying for Virus Tests for People Choosing to Stay Unvaccinated

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Germany to Stop Paying for Virus Tests for People Choosing to Stay Unvaccinated

BERLIN — After months of offering free coronavirus antigen tests to all residents, Germany will stop subsidizing them for adults who choose not to get vaccinated, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced Tuesday.

Starting Oct. 11, when the changes take effect, the tests will continue to be available at no charge for people under 18, pregnant women or others who have medical reasons not to get vaccinated.

Since March, the country has spent billions of dollars offering at least one free antigen test per resident each week, which has led to a boom of privately run testing stations.

Ms. Merkel met with state governors on Tuesday to negotiate the new rules, as infections, driven by the highly contagious Delta variant, are increasing, albeit more slowly than in many other parts of Europe.

German authorities have also agreed on new rules requiring proof of vaccination, recent recovery or a negative test for certain indoor activities, including going to a restaurant, hairdresser or gym, once the weekly local infection rate surpasses 35 per 100,000 inhabitants.

As of Monday, the authorities had registered 23.5 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants per week nationwide. Currently 55 percent of Germans have received the full vaccination course and 62.5 percent received the first jab, a rate, as Ms. Merkel noted during her news conference, that was no longer among the highest in the European Union.

“We now have enough of the vaccine,” she said. “Now we have to promote vaccinations.”

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