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Germany looks to end free COVID-19 tests

Alex Berry
August 10, 2021

A draft proposal has revealed plans by Germany's 16 states and federal government to end free coronavirus testing. The idea is set to be confirmed during a meeting on Tuesday.

A man receiving a free antigen test from a test center in Düsseldorf
Free COVID-19 tests were considered a key part of breaking the third wave of infections in Germany, ending lockdown restrictionsImage: Ying Tang/NurPhoto/picture alliance

Lawmakers in Germany are considering a plan to end free coronavirus tests in October, according to a draft proposal seen by the RND media group on Monday.

The media outlet reported that the proposal had come from the chancellor's office. It will be discussed during Tuesday's meeting between Germany's 16 state premiers and the national government, where it is expected to be confirmed.

The proposal follows comments by top officials such as Health Minister Jens Spahn who has said he would like to see unvaccinated individuals pay for their own tests by mid-October. This comes as Germany is looking for ways to increase vaccine uptake and to avoid a delta variant-fueled fourth wave.

Sanctions for the Unvaccinated

Exact date not yet set

The proposal seen by RND said that "the free coronavirus tests managed to break the third wave of the SARS-CoV2 pandemic in Germany."

"Since in the meantime all citizens have been offered the chance to get a vaccine, it is no longer appropriate for the state, and thus the taxpayers, to take on the costs of all tests," the draft added.

According to RND, no exact date has yet been decided and certain individuals would remain exempt from paying, such as those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.

Test requirements for the unvaccinated

German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel also reportedly saw a draft proposal from the chancellor's office calling for an October end to the free tests. The paper also reported that the proposal laid out a plan for the return of all freedoms to people who have been fully vaccinated or who have recovered from a COVID-19 infection.

As has been discussed recently among German officials, the plan would see unvaccinated people remain subject to testing requirements, but no longer able to access free testing.

Hospitals, care homes, cultural and sports events, religious services, "intimate services," and fitness facilities would all still require negative tests within the past 48 hours, Tagesspiegel reported.

"I think it's right that unvaccinated people will have to pay for their own tests from the fall. By then everyone will have had the chance to be vaccinated for free," Lower Saxony's State Premier Stephan Weil told the paper.

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