German Finance Minister: We’ll Be Able to Sit in the Beer Garden Again in Summer

25 February 2021

By David Barwick – Frankfurt (Econostream) – German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz on Thursday suggested that Germany would reach a degree of normalcy by the summer that would allow social distancing to be significantly reduced.

In an interview with German daily Rheinische Post, Scholz, according to a text made available by the Finance Ministry, defended the vaccine of AstraZeneca.

Scholz, who is his party’s candidate for Germany’s chancellorship in the September 26 elections, said that it was very important to note that ‘we have every reason to hope’, adding, ‘I assume that we will be able to sit in the beer garden again in the summer and also watch the next Bundesliga season in the stadium again.’

With respect to reducing Covid case numbers and the burden on intensive care units, Germany is ‘on a good path’, he said. However, he added, ‘we have to remain careful until large parts of the population are vaccinated. Now is the time to procure sufficient vaccines, test a lot and vaccinate quickly.’

The coronavirus and the variations of it that have emerged will be around ‘for a while yet’, he said. Rapid tests could be a way to enable economic reopening, he said. The heads of the German federal states will discuss this next week, he said.

To reach the governments goal of vaccinating by September 21 everyone who wishes to be vaccinated, it will soon be necessary to ramp up the number of vaccinations per week to ‘several million’, he cautioned.

Another problem was ‘AstraZeneca's unjustifiably bad reputation’, he said. ‘I can only appeal to everyone: Please take this vaccine too - it also effectively protects against infection!’

With respect to next fiscal year’s federal budget, currently being negotiated, Scholz noted that the pandemic would lead to ‘several years’ of lower-than-projected tax revenues. Still, he repeated his insistence that there be no compromising on spending for health, social welfare or investment.

‘We have to reflect all this in the 2022 budget and the financial planning until 2025’, he said. ‘The coalition must form an opinion on this by the end of March - no one can shirk this decision.’

In the medium term, Germany would grow its way out of the debt it has justifiably incurred to mitigate the crisis, he said.

Scholz repeated his call for a wealth tax and higher tax rates for the highest earners.