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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke December 8, 2021

No, this isn’t a photo of a German mall separating vaccinated and unvaccinated shoppers

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  • This photo was taken in October in Latvia, which requires proof of vaccination or recovery from COVID-19 to patronize some businesses. 

On Dec. 2, Germany announced unvaccinated residents would face stricter restrictions. People seeking entrance to bars, restaurants and some stores would have to show proof of vaccination or evidence that they recovered from a recent infection. But an image that is being described on social media as an illustration of the country’s new rules wasn’t even taken there.  

"Picture from a German mall separating the vaccinated and unvaccinated," the post says. "I’m not here to compare anything in history but to just call out how dumb this fear mongering sh-- is. Branch Covidians are the craziest people in the world." 

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

We did a reverse image search of the picture and found this Twitter thread from Peter Burger, a lecturer at Leiden University in the Netherlands and a fact-checker at Nieuwscheckers.

"This photo is from Latvia," Burger said, according to a translation of his tweets from Dutch to English. He also shared a screenshot showing where the photo was first posted: in an Oct. 13 Facebook post by Latvian politician Aldis Gobzems, who has opposed vaccination mandates

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A translation of Gobzems’ post from Latvian to English says that the picture shows him and his wife, Krista Gobzema. Proof of vaccination or recovery from COVID-19 is required at businesses in the country except those providing basic services, such as groceries. Residents can get digital COVID-19 certificates, showing that they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or recovered from the virus. Each certificate has a unique QR code that can be scanned to confirm this. 


"We have children together," the post says. "We are separated by a virus-proof fence. Kristai has a QR code, I don’t have one."

Russian-language news sources reported the following week that Gobzems, who was unvaccinated, had tested positive for COVID-19. 

We rate claims that this photo was taken in Germany False.


Our Sources

Facebook post, Dec. 3, 2021

The New York Times, Germany Shuts Unvaccinated People Out of Much of Public Life, Dec. 2, 2021

Peter Burger tweets, Dec. 2, 2021

Aldis Gobzems Facebook post, Oct. 13, 2021

Arbiter tweet, Dec. 2, 2021

Aldis Gobzems tweet, Dec. 2, 2021

U.S. Embassy in Latvia, COVID-19 information, last updated Dec. 1, 2021

Mix News, Journalists found out whether Gobzems, who had been ill with COVID, managed to infect others (VIDEO), Oct. 22, 2021, Hundreds protest against 'mandatory vaccination' in Latvia, Aug. 5, 2021

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No, this isn’t a photo of a German mall separating vaccinated and unvaccinated shoppers

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