Germany could decide how to lift COVID-19 curbs from vaccinated people next week -minister

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FILE PHOTO: General view of the "Landungsbruecken", a landing pier for ferries and tourist boats at the harbor, during a lockdown, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Hamburg,

BERLIN (Reuters) - The German government could reach agreement on how to exempt people who have been fully vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 restrictions by the end of next week, Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Friday.

"It can be done within days," Spahn told a news conference during a visit to a vaccine factory in Reinbek, north of Hamburg, which will start producing BioNTech's COVID-19 shot.

He said initial talks with the lower and upper house of parliament about the proposals, which would govern restrictions within Germany, were already under way. "And if we can reach a consensus very quickly, then we can certainly reach a decision by the end of next week," he said.

The justice ministry has proposed exempting people who have been fully vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 from restrictions, such as night-time curfews and strict limits on private gatherings, which were introduced to try and contain a third wave of the virus.

Giving special freedoms to the vaccinated is a thorny issue, with some ministers fearing it could lead to social tensions at a time when not everyone has had the opportunity to get vaccinated, as well as make it harder for regions to enforce the curbs.

As of Thursday, some 6.4 million people, or 7.7% of the German population, were fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

(Reporting by Caroline Copley, Editing by William Maclean)