Germany will stop offering free COVID-19 tests for most people beginning in October in the hopes of encouraging more people to get vaccinated, officials announced on Aug. 10.
“Since we can already make a vaccination offer to every citizen, we will abolish free citizen testing for everyone as of October 11,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a press conference, as quoted by Politico, following a meeting with Germany’s 16 state governors.
Merkel added that those exempted from the rule include pregnant women, children, and those advised against getting the vaccine for medical reasons.
Merkel said that 55.1% of the population has been fully vaccinated, but the vaccination campaign has slowed down while cases soar.
Officials agreed to the move in the hopes that people will no longer rely on the test system as a way of avoiding the vaccine.
Bavaria’s state governor Markus Soeder said that it would be unfair for fully vaccinated people to keep paying for others’ free tests, which are currently required to enter venues, such as gyms, stadiums, and theaters.
However, some politicians criticized the plan to abolish free testing, arguing that it amounts to taxing the poor.
According to data from the federal health ministry, over 45.8 million individuals have been fully vaccinated while over 52 million have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Data also showed that Germany recorded 2,480 new COVID-19 cases and 19 new deaths, bringing the tallies to over 3.7 million cases and 91,803 deaths.
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