TRAVEL: Germany plans to maintain border restrictions after pandemic laws end

TRAVEL: Germany plans to maintain border restrictions after pandemic laws end
Arrivals at Berlin Airport in August 2020. Photo: dpa | Annette Riedl
The German government is preparing legislation that will allow the Health Ministry to impose travel restrictions on entry from certain countries after the emergency pandemic laws have been lifted.

The move means that international travellers from countries with high infection levels, or from areas where a new strain of the virus is spreading, are likely to face entry restrictions into Germany for a further year.

“We intend to decide next week that entry conditions set by decree by Health Minister Jens Spahn can continue to apply even after the disease control law no longer applies,” Social Democratic lawmaker Johannes Fechner told Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

In March of last year, the Bundestag voted to enact a state of emergency based upon the worsening epidemic situation that allowed the government to impose restrictions on personal freedoms such as quarantine and contact restrictions.

Earlier this month, the Bundestag voted to extend the government’s pandemic powers until the end of September.

Under the planned law, which the government hopes to put to debate in the coming weeks, the Health Ministry would be able to impose mandatory testing, quarantine rules, or entry bans on people arriving from countries with a high level of infection or from areas with a ‘variant of concern.’

The Health Ministry would initially receive such powers for a period of 12 months after the end of the pandemic situation.

Fechner said that it was legitimate to hand the Health Minister the power to impose testing and quarantine due to the fact that “the entry requirements are not substantial encroachments on constitutional rights.”

The proposal was criticised by the opposition in the Bundestag.

The liberal Free Democrats said that “we have criticised from the outset the blanket powers granted to the government, which can be issued without the approval of the Bundestag.”

The Greens said such rules were necessary but they “should not be enacted solely by the federal health secretary.”

SEE ALSO: Germany set to open borders to vaccinated non-EU nationals


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