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What you need to know about changes to travel and quarantine rules in Germany

What you need to know about changes to travel and quarantine rules in Germany
Even though the travel warning has been lifted, there are still many restrictons on travel. Photo: DPA
The blanket worldwide travel warning has been lifted – but restrictions remain. Here's what you need to know about travel abroad from October.

Germany lifted its blanket warning against tourist travel for more than 160 countries outside the EU and Schengen zone at the start of October. But it doesn't mean that international travel for holidaymakers is to get any easier.

Now each country in the world is assessed individually by the Federal Foreign Office.

READ ALSO: These are the countries and regions on Germany's 'high risk' quarantine list

Countries are now split into these three categories:

– TRAVEL WARNING: This will only be issued for those countries that exceed the limit of 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the last seven days. This is currently the case for 123 countries in full, including the US, Mexico and India, and 15 in part (for example, only some parts of Switzerland are classed as a risk region).

– TRAVEL WARNING LITE: For about 50 other countries, travel is discouraged regardless of the infection rate. This is because there are still restrictions on entry. This group of countries includes, for example, the popular winter holiday destination Thailand, where there are hardly any coronavirus infections, but foreign tourists have to quarantine.

– NO WARNING: The bottom line is that not many countries will be in this category, at least for now. In the EU, for example, only nine of Germany's 26 partner countries now have no risk area and no travel warnings.

These are some popular holiday destinations included in the 'no warning' section: Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Malta. Outside Europe is the likes of Georgia and Tunisia. Meanwhile, Turkey's Mediterranean holiday destinations have been exempt from the 'high risk' classification for several weeks.

READ ALSO: Who is currently allowed to travel to Germany from outside the EU?

Travellers should visit the Foreign Office website for up-to-date information.

Quarantine rules and changes ahead

Currently, people returning or arriving from risk areas to Germany must be tested for Covid-19 and self-isolate until the results are available.

The test can also be carried out abroad before arrival, but must not be older than 48 hours. In Germany, the tests are free of charge for travellers from risk areas and are offered on arrival at some airports and ports, but can also be carried out by doctors (for more information contact the local health authority or the non emergency health number on 116 117).

Returnees without a negative test result must remain in domestic quarantine for 14 days. In the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania the quarantine period can only be shortened if two negative test results are obtained.

If the test result is positive, the quarantine remains in place, even if no symptoms appear. This also applies to the people with whom the affected person has had close contact (eg household members or partner/children). Compliance with the quarantine is monitored by the responsible health authority.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Germany's quarantine rules for arrivals

Germany is in the process of changing its rules on quarantine for people returning from risk areas.

The obligation to test is to be replaced by a mandatory 14-day self-isolation, which can be ended by a negative test result on the fifth day after return at the earliest.

The new rules have to come into force by November 8th, Chancellor Angela Merkel and the state leaders announced after a meeting on October 15th. However, some areas are already carrying out this system.

The implementation of this and the rules around it lies with the individual German states. Please contact the health department of the state you are visiting or living in if you have any questions.

What else is set to change?

Up until now now, people returning from risk areas have usually not had to worry about a loss of earnings due to compulsory quarantine.

This is also set to change: anyone who cannot work after a trip to a risk area because of quarantine will not be entitled to continued payment of wages in future. However, it is still unclear when the new regulation will come into force.

When was the warning introduced?

The global warning against tourist travel during the coronavirus pandemic was issued by Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on March 17th after numerous borders had been closed, flight connections cut off and tens of thousands of Germans were stranded abroad.

By June 15th, the regulation was lifted again for most European countries. However, European countries can also be classed as risk zones when infections rise.

The travel warning is not a ban, but is intended to deter tourists from non-essential travel. 

Travel from risk areas is permitted for a number of circumstances, including for emergency aid workers, urgent family reasons and students with a valid visa

READ ALSO: ‘I come from a coronavirus risk area. How can I visit my partner in Germany?'


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