BERLIN ( Associated Press) – Germany’s ruling party is putting the brakes on plans for compulsory coronavirus vaccination, saying it could take months for lawmakers to properly debate the controversial measure in parliament.
The Berlin daily Tagespiegel quoted Dirk Wiese, the deputy parliamentary party leader of the Social Democrats, as saying on Sunday that the Bundestag should aim to complete its deliberations on the vaccine mandate during the first quarter of 2022.
Green Party caucus leader Britta Hasselman told the Funke media group that the first debate could take place in late January.
With few parliamentary sessions in February, this could mean the lower house will not pass a bill before the end of March. Germany’s upper house, the Bundesrat, will take up the matter in April, meaning it could come into force a month later at the earliest.
Tagespigel pointed out that implementation could be delayed until June to ensure technical conditions like the Nationwide Vaccine Register.
Among those opposing the vaccine mandate are some members of the Free Democrats, who are part of the ruling coalition, and Germany’s former health minister who last summer pledged not to introduce a general vaccine mandate. Political leaders have agreed to let MPs vote at their discretion on the issue rather than across party lines.
The emerging mandate has also been a rallying point for outspoken anti-vaccine campaigners participating in the protests against Germany’s pandemic restrictions. Some recent demonstrations have turned violent, with protesters attacking police officers after they were ordered to disperse.
About 72% of Germans are considered “fully vaccinated”, while 42.3% have received an additional booster shot.
Germany’s disease control agency reported 36,552 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 77 deaths in the past 24 hours.
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