Berlin In politics, a dispute has broken out about how to deal with unvaccinated people in view of the rising number of corona infections. The reason for this is that the pressure on unvaccinated people should be increased. Several federal states no longer want to pay people without a vaccination for loss of earnings when quarantine is ordered. Other countries are examining relevant regulations.
“I think this approach is not only unsuitable, rather counterproductive and legally inadmissible,” said the FDP Vice President Wolfgang Kubicki the Handelsblatt. Obviously, guilty parties are now being sought who “have to serve as a scapegoat for the bad pandemic management of the federal government”.
If quarantine leads to loss of earnings, those affected have so far been entitled to compensation – regardless of whether they have been vaccinated or not. That means: companies continue to pay the salary and get it reimbursed by the state. At the same time, however, the Infection Protection Act provides that the claim for compensation can be waived if the quarantine could have been avoided by vaccination.
This possibility will be given in the future because of the “widespread availability of vaccines”, said the Bonn labor lawyer Gregor Thüsing the Handelsblatt. This justifies the loss of the right to compensation, although there must be exceptions for people who actually cannot be vaccinated.
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With this justification, North Rhine-Westphalia wants to abolish compensation payments for unvaccinated people in the event of an officially ordered quarantine on October 11. Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate have already decided not to reimburse unvaccinated people for lost earnings. There are corresponding considerations in several other federal states, including Bavaria, Lower Saxony, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Hesse.
Spahn advocates a wage freeze
The fact that the countries are being led to act is likely to have something to do with the latest warning from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). “If we don’t drastically increase the current vaccination rates, then the current fourth wave can take a brilliant course in autumn,” said RKI boss Lothar Wieler on Wednesday. Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn (CDU) agreed. In view of the large number of those who have not been vaccinated, it cannot be guaranteed that the health system will not be overburdened or overloaded again.
Spahn supports the federal states’ approach, also for reasons of cost. “In the end, it is the taxpayers who finance the wage replacement benefit – for someone who could have been vaccinated.” In the past year and a half, the states have incurred costs of around 458 million euros through continued wage payments.
The costs of the quarantine could not remain a national task in the long term, said NRW Health Minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU), whose state has so far spent the highest amount of compensation with around 120 million euros.
In this context, the federal vice-president of the CDU workers’ wing, Christian Bäumler, emphasized that the basis of continued wages in the event of quarantine is the principle of solidarity. “Anyone who does not get vaccinated without health reasons has to bear the risk of loss of wages in quarantine,” said Bäumler.
Criticism also from the SPD
At the same time, he campaigned for the federal states to find a uniform regulation. “Federal differences make no sense when it comes to questions of justice,” said Bäumler. The states of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Hesse also advocate a uniform national approach.
The SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach, however, doubted whether more pressure on unvaccinated people is really helpful. He referred to the USA, where there is basically no paid quarantine. “The sick people tried to get through this way,” Lauterbach told the editorial network in Germany. “This harbors two risks: you can infect others and there is also a threat to health if a corona disease is dragged on.”
The FDP Vice Kubicki also fears that infected people could forego a test or seek medical advice. Thus, a wage freeze will more likely promote the pandemic. In addition, the FDP politician warned that vaccinated people can also be infectious. “That means: The risk of infection does not come from the unvaccinated, but from the infected.”
In fact, even the Federal Ministry of Health recently admitted that a vaccination with a positive test result does not exempt you from quarantine. In addition, according to the current state of knowledge, it cannot be assumed that a vaccination would have prevented the infection.
More: Last resort: Compulsory vaccination- Why the state should take tougher measures when in doubt