Professor Kai Möller on Germany's 'lockdown for the unvaccinated'

21 January 2022


In an essay for the German newspaper Die Welt, Professor Kai Möller has criticised Germany’s policy of excluding unvaccinated people from public and social life. In contrast to England’s policy of treating vaccinated and unvaccinated people equally, in most parts of Germany, unvaccinated people are prohibited from going to restaurants, using sports facilities, going shopping (except for basic needs), or attending cultural events. They may only meet up to two other people at the same time (whether vaccinated or not), and in some parts of the country there are even nightly curfews for unvaccinated people. Their situation is frequently referred to as an open-ended ‘lockdown for the unvaccinated’.

Professor Möller argues that these measures are imprudent, unjust, and unethical.

They are imprudent because they irresponsibly stir up tensions and conflict which could easily lead to violence.

Furthermore, they are unjust, discriminatory, and a paradigmatic example of a majority behaving in a tyrannical way towards an unpopular, even despised, minority. This becomes clear when considering the proportionality of the measures and balancing the severity of the restriction against the public interest. On the one side of the scales, imposing a lockdown on a part of the population is a most serious matter. While it is possible for the unvaccinated to end their exclusion by getting vaccinated, a liberal state must respect the choices people make with regard to their own bodies, even if unreasonable or harmful, just as it must respect its citizens’ potentially harmful thoughts or religious convictions. On the other side of the scales, there is only a speculative benefit of the current regime compared to an alternative policy that requires unvaccinated people to get a daily test.

Finally, Professor Möller argues that the approach is also unethical in that it is harmful to the vaccinated majority itself. It is remarkable that discussions about vaccine passports and mandatory vaccination never gained much traction in England. The article speculates that in England there may exist a wide-spread and intuitive understanding that life is simply better without feelings of resentment, anger, and moral superiority towards unvaccinated people which are so prevalent in the German public discourse these days. It concludes by recommending that Germany should follow England’s model and end the ‘lockdown for the unvaccinated’.  

Link to the article (paywall):