Conservatives in Germany Call for Vaccine Mandates, Lockdowns of Unvaccinated

Conservative politicians in Germany are calling for federal and state governments to introduce mandatory vaccine requirements for the public and even issue lockdowns for the unvaccinated amid a new wave of COVID-19 infections.

Several members of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc on Sunday said the measures should be implemented to ramp up the nation's relatively low vaccination rate of just 68 percent, according to Reuters.

"We've reached a point at which we must clearly say that we need de facto compulsory vaccination and a lockdown for the unvaccinated," Tilman Kuban, head of the youth wing of Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), wrote in Die Welt newspaper.

That statement comes after Germany's seven-day coronavirus infection rate rose to its highest levels since the pandemic began for the second week in a row. On Thursday, the country also reported its highest single-day surge in cases at 65,371 new infections.

Weekly infections now stand at more than 362 per 100,000 people, while the peak during last year's lockdown was just above 197. In some parts of the country, infection rates have soared past 1,000 per day, causing intensive care units to reach capacity and hospitals to become overwhelmed, Reuters reported.

The situation has gotten so dire that Bavaria implemented a statewide lockdown on Friday, closing bars and clubs for at least three weeks and canceling this year's Christmas markets due to virus transmission.

Thomas Bareiss, Germany's tourism commissioner under Merkel, said Sunday that rising infection rates make it clear that compulsory vaccinations for the public will soon be "unavoidable."

"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...take the freedom not to vaccinate," Bareiss said, per Sky News.

Daniel Gunther, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) minister president of the Schleswig-Holstein state, also echoed those concerns. He told German media that he would now be prepared to introduce vaccinations requirements for the public.

Other politicians, including Bavarian State Premier Markus Soeder, called for a quick decision to make COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory throughout the country. Danyal Bayaz, a member of the Greens and Finance Minister in Baden-Wuerttemberg added that it would be a "mistake" to rule out a mandatory requirement as infections soar across the nation, Reuters reported.

Germany COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate
Conservative politicians in Germany have said they support vaccine mandates for the general public amid a wave of new COVID infections. Here, a doctor vaccinates a patient in southern Germany on November 19. CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty Images

The latest support for stricter vaccination requirements comes just days after leaders of Germany's 16 states agreed to implement a COVID-19 testing requirement for those who have not been vaccinated but use public transportation or go into an office.

"We need to quickly put a brake on the exponential rise" in cases and intensive care bed occupancy, Merkel said this week, while calling the situation "highly dramatic," France24 reported.

Meanwhile, in neighboring Austria, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg announced this week that starting in February 2022 the entire nation will be required to be inoculated against COVID-19. It is the first European country to require all of its citizens to be vaccinated by law.

"We have not managed to get enough unvaccinated people to get vaccinated. The most recent measures have increased daily vaccinations but not enough," Schallenberg told reporters on Friday. "For a long time, it was consensus in the country that a vaccine mandate is not necessary, but we have to face reality."