German minister targets end to COVID-19 curbs next month

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Weekly cabinet meeting in Berlin

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany should lift all remaining coronavirus-linked social and economic curbs as soon as everyone has been offered a vaccine, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas was quoted as saying on Tuesday, suggesting that point should be reached next month.

Around 56.5% of people in Germany have received at least one dose and almost 39% are fully vaccinated, according to health ministry data.

"When everyone in Germany has received a vaccine offer, there is no longer a legal or political justification for any kind of restriction," Maas told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

That should occur sometime during August, he added.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has previously said she wants to offer everyone in Germany a vaccine by Sept. 21.

Separately, officials from Germany's regional states agreed on Tuesday that soccer stadiums can admit a maximum of 25,000 spectators when the 2021/22 Bundesliga soccer competition kicks off on Aug. 13.

For events with more than 5,000 spectators, up to 50% of a venue's capacity can be used, "but not more than a total of 25,000 spectators", read the states' resolution, a copy of which was seen by Reuters.

The agreement adds that the number of spectators will be limited to 5,000 if the seven-day coronavirus incidence in the district concerned is more than 35 per 100,000.

In January, Maas was the first German government minister to call for restrictions to be eased for vaccinated people and suggested they should be allowed to visit the cinema or eat in restaurants. Other ministers opposed special exemptions for the vaccinated.

Other countries are also considering how to exit restrictions imposed to prevent health systems becoming overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out plans on Monday to end restrictions in England in two weeks' time, a test of whether a rapid vaccine rollout offers enough protection from the highly contagious Delta variant.

(Reporting by Caroline Copley and Andreas Rinke; editing by John Stonestreet and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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