Germany extends travel ban on UK and South African arrivals to January 20th

Germany has extended a ban on arrivals from the UK and South Africa over new Covid-19 variants until later this month, it has emerged.

Germany extends travel ban on UK and South African arrivals to January 20th
People at Stuttgart airport. Photo: DPA

Officials banned people arriving from these countries on December 22nd after new coronavirus variants, believed to be more infectious, were detected in these countries.

“The transport ban covers passenger traffic by train, bus, ship and flights directly from these countries,” the Health Ministry previously said in a statement.

It was due to be lifted on January 6th. However, German authorities say the ban will now be in place until at least January 20th.

However, there are some exceptions. These people are allowed to travel into Germany from the UK and South Africa:

  • German citizens regardless of their place of residence
  • EU citizens entitled to freedom of movement as well as their family members with permanent residence in Germany, including:
  • British citizens (and their family members) who were legally resident in Germany before the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31st
  • Third-country nationals with permanent residence in Germany who have a residence permit or long-term visa for Germany
  • People who are not entering Germany, who stay in the airport transit area (en route to a country outside of the Schengen area) and who meet the necessary criteria for this (confirmed onward flight and, if required, Airport Transit Visa)

READ MORE: How Brits in the UK can get back to Germany

Those people arriving in Germany have to stick to strict rules:

  • According to authorities, travellers coming into Germany from the UK or South Africa “must provide proof (in either English or German) of a negative Covid-19 test”
  • The test has to have been taken no more than 48 hours before arrival in Germany
  • “For entry into Germany, PCR, LAMP, TMA and antigen tests are all accepted,” authorities say. However, antigen tests must meet certain quality standards
  • Note that the test can no longer be taken upon or immediately after entry into Germany
  • The German government has asked transport carries to only allow travellers to board who can present proof of the test at the start of their trip
  • That means if you don't have proof of a negative test, you may be refused entry onto a flight or other mode of transport
  • When people arrive in Germany they must quarantine for 10 days (as is mandatory for everyone coming from a 'risk zone'). That quarantine can be ended with a negative test taken five days in at the earliest.

People coming from risk areas also have to fill out a form.

For information on test requirements check out this information sheet.

What else should I know?

The ban means that people cannot visit Germany, for example, from the UK or South Africa if they don't fall under the exceptions noted above. That includes tourists.

The aim is to slow down the spread of new Covid variants in continental Europe.

German scientists stress that the new variants could make it more difficult to contain the pandemic.

So far, only isolated cases of the variant have been reported, including in the states of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia. However, experts expect the numbers will increase.

Are there any complications?

Yes. British people have to prove that they are resident in Germany if they want to travel into the country. But this is complicated due to the Brexit transition period ending on December 31st 2020.

Many British people do not have their residence paperwork yet from German authorities so they have been asked to bring other proof, such as a registration document (Anmeldung) or rental contract.

However, there have been reports of people being wrongly barred from flights even though they had negative coronavirus tests and these documents.

READ MORE: 'Utter nightmare': Brits barred from flights home to Germany amid travel chaos

Some Brits have also wrongly had their passport stamped by border officials, however they have been told not to panic if this happens.



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Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

German health ministers say that tougher Covid restrictions should come back into force if a serious wave emerges in autumn.

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

Following a video meeting on Monday, the health ministers of Germany’s 16 states said tougher restrictions should be imposed again if they are needed. 

“The corona pandemic is not over yet – we must not be deceived by the current declining incidences,” said Saxony-Anhalt’s health minister Petra Grimm-Benne, of the Social Democrats, who currently chairs the Conference of Health Ministers (GMK).

According to the GMK, new virus variants are expected to appear in autumn and winter. Over the weekend, federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) also warned that the more dangerous Delta variant could return to Germany. “That is why the federal Ministry of Health should draw up a master plan to combat the corona pandemic as soon as possible and coordinate it with the states,” Grimm-Benne said.

Preparations should also include an amendment of the Infection Protection Act, ministers urged. They want to see the states given powers to react to the infection situation in autumn and winter. They called on the government to initiate the legislative process in a timely manner, and get the states actively involved.

The current Infection Protection Act expires on September 23rd this year. Germany has loosened much of its Covid restrictions in the last months, however, face masks are still compulsory on public transport as well as on planes. 

READ ALSO: Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

The health ministers said that from autumn onwards, it should be possible for states to make masks compulsory indoors if the regional infection situation calls for it. Previously, wearing a Covid mask was obligatory in Germany when shopping and in restaurants and bars when not sitting at a table. 

Furthermore, the so-called 3G rule for accessing some venues and facilities – where people have to present proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test – should be implemented again if needed, as well as other infection protection rules, the ministers said. 

Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek, of the CSU, welcomed the ministers’ unanimous call for a revision of the Infection Protection Act. “The states must be able to take all necessary infection protection measures quickly, effectively, and with legal certainty,” he said.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s health minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) warned that no one should “lull themselves into a false sense of security”.

“We must now prepare for the colder season and use the time to be able to answer important questions about the immunity of the population or the mechanisms of infection chains,” he said.

On Tuesday, Germany reported 86,253 Covid infections within the latest 24 hour period, as well as 215 Covid-related deaths. The 7-day incidence stood at 437.6 infections per 100,000 people. However, experts believe there could be twice as many infections because lots of cases go unreported. 

READ ALSO: Five things to know about the Covid pandemic in Germany right now