Germany mulls charging unvaccinated people for COVID tests

Government reportedly planning to end free coronavirus tests in bid to nudge more people to get vaccinated.

Germany mulls charging unvaccinated people for COVID tests

Germany’s coalition government is planning to end free coronavirus testing and begin charging unvaccinated people for tests starting in October, local media reported.

Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled to discuss new coronavirus measures and ways to boost vaccination rates in a videoconference meeting with premiers of Germany's 16 federal states on Tuesday.

Draft conclusions of the meeting, published by Bild daily, underlined that everyone who wants a jab has a chance to get vaccinated by the end of September, and called on those who are still hesitant to take this opportunity, stressing that vaccines are the most effective defense against COVID-19.

The government said starting in October, the state would no longer cover the costs of free rapid tests for all, and that those who have decided against vaccination would have to pay for their own tests.

Free coronavirus testing will continue to be offered only to people who cannot get the vaccine due to health conditions as well as to pregnant women, children, and people under 18.

In most of the federal states, testing is currently required for attending large-scale business, culture, or sports events. In some cities, testing is also required for those visiting enclosed spaces such as museums, movie theaters, or concert halls.

City governments can also impose stricter rules if cases of the virus rise, and can require testing for customers at indoor restaurants, bars, and cafes, unless they can show proof of vaccination.

Germany has general elections set for Sept. 26, and the retiring Merkel will not continue as chancellor.

Formation of a new government could easily stretch into late in the year.

Ultimately, the continuation of Merkel’s plan depends on the new government continuing her government’s policy on the virus.