People in Germany will have to pay for rapid Covid-19 tests themselves from Monday, with exceptions for people who cannot be vaccinated, including children under 12. The tests had been offered free across Germany since the beginning of March.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and Germany’s federal state premiers agreed the move because the availability of vaccinations to all citizens made a permanent assumption of the test costs by taxpayers unnecessary.
However, the regulation also lays down some transitional rules. For example, children aged 12 to 17 and pregnant women can still have at least one free test per week until 31 December. People who need a test to end a quarantine due to a Covid-19 infection will also continue to be tested free of charge.
PCR tests ordered by doctors or the public health department are not affected by the change and in these cases, the costs will still be covered. PCR tests are considered more reliable at detecting infections.
A similar step went into effect in neighboring Switzerland on Monday. The tests are still free of charge for people under 16 years of age, for those who have received just one dose of vaccine, for people with a suspected coronavirus infection, and for those who cannot be vaccinated for genuine medical reasons. Programmers German with regular testing in schools and at businesses also remain free.
Since only just under 60 per cent of all people in Switzerland have been fully vaccinated, the government has started a new vaccination initiative, including the creation of 50 more mobile units that offer vaccination without registration across the country.
The health minister has also proposed rewarding people who convince others to get themselves vaccinated with a voucher worth 50 francs (54 dollars).
In both Germany and Switzerland a certificate proving a person has been either vaccinated, recovered from, or tested for the coronavirus must be shown indoors at restaurants, cultural and recreational facilities, and at events staged indoors.
Text and photo: Courtesy © dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH