Should those vaccinated against COVID-19 be given special privileges?
Natalie Carney in Munich

Since Germany's inoculations against COVID-19 began on December 27, there has been a debate within the country about whether or not to give those who have been vaccinated special privileges or advantages.

Some companies have already started programs, such as the country's biggest airline Lufthansa, which is offering COVID-19-tested flights, on which passengers are only allowed to board with a negative test result.

Yet others, like the TCM Beauty and Massage Studio in the eastern side of Munich are not yet convinced.

Yu Zhitao, owner of this traditional Chinese massage studio, says he has certainly seen better times. Prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus, he employed six other massage therapists, but Germany's lockdown measures to stop the spread of the virus have lost him 50 percent of his 2020 revenue.


"Our studio was closed for four months in 2020 and our business is a mess," he said.

The robust debate circles around opening places such as shops, movie theaters and massage parlors only for those who have been vaccinated.

While desperate for clients to return, Yu is unsure if reopening for those few makes sense economically.

"If Germany requires only those already vaccinated to be able to come for massages, then we basically have no business to do," he said. 

"I believe it will take more than a year for everyone to take the vaccine shots," he added.

Currently, only priority groups, such as the elderly and medical care personnel are being vaccinated. It is not until at least mid-2021, that the vaccine will be available to the general public, Yu's main customers.

Germany is also facing vaccine supply concerns, leading to the temporary closure of some vaccination centers.


Yu Zhitao, the owner of TCM Beauty and Massage studio in Munich, believes allowing only people who have been vaccinated to come to his shop would hurt his business. /CGTN

Yu Zhitao, the owner of TCM Beauty and Massage studio in Munich, believes allowing only people who have been vaccinated to come to his shop would hurt his business. /CGTN


The next EU shipment of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccines arrives on January 8, while the European approval of the Moderna vaccine is expected on January 6.

In addition, many businesses across Germany that have been affected by lockdown closures are receiving some form of government subsidy/support. It is unclear if that would continue for businesses that open for those with "special privileges."

More and more German politicians have been lending their voices against such a policy, arguing it would divide society and challenge people's freedom of choice.

Munich resident Urban Berthold said: "The vaccine is not available for everyone and it's not free of charge for everyone. You can't combine privileges with it."

Elvira Romero agreed: "All people should be equal. Everyone should be treated the same."

And what of those who can't get the vaccine for other medical reasons, such as 32-year-old Pascal Becker? "In my opinion, it's not good," he told CGTN Europe. "I have a chronic disease and can't get vaccinated because it would destroy my immune system completely."

While special privileges for the vaccinated are unlikely to get the green light, other measures that will start to pick up Germany's challenging economy are very much needed.

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