German Chancellor Angela Merkel has declined to follow France in making vaccination for COVID-19 mandatory for those working in the healthcare sector, at least in the short term.
Speaking after French President Emmanuel Macron announced the rules on Monday, Merkel said Germany had no intention – at present – of doing the same.
“I’m not ruling out that this might be talked about differently in a few months,” Merkel said.
“But at the moment we have said we don’t want compulsory vaccinations, we want to promote vaccinations.”
Like Macron, Merkel urged citizens to go out and get the vaccine in country where almost 60% have received one dose and 43% are fully vaccinated.
She told reporters “the more people are vaccinated, the more free we will be again, the more freely we will be able to live again.”
People in Germany are required to show negative test results or proof of vaccination to attend events and eat out in restaurants, rules that Macron said Tuesday could soon come into force in France too.
Rates in France are slightly lower than in Germany, with 41% of the population now fully vaccinated.
Macron announced on Monday that from September 15, all healthcare workers needed to get the jab. He also said that health passes would be needed to allow vaccinated people to visit restaurants and shopping malls as well as travel on planes and trains ahead of the country’s summer vacation season.
The new rules have angered some in France, where anti-vaccination sentiment has traditionally been high.
“I’m getting vaccinated because I want to have a social life and go on holidays,” law student Marius Chavenon, 22. told AP.
But he added, “I don’t think vaccination should be compulsory. We live in France, we should be able to do what we want.”
In Paris, nurse Solene Manable said, “There are many health workers who don’t want to get vaccinated because we don’t know much about the vaccines.” But she said she understood “many people who are getting vaccinated to be able to go back to restaurants … to be able to have a normal life again.”