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HEALTH

‘There’s so much uncertainty’: How people in Germany are reacting to Trump’s Europe travel ban

Holidays under threat and fears over cancelled flights: people across Germany have been sharing their thoughts after President Trump announced that the US would ban travel from most European countries due to the coronavirus.

'There's so much uncertainty': How people in Germany are reacting to Trump's Europe travel ban
A pilot wearing a protective face mask in Frankfurt airport. Photo: DPA

The ban, which does not include the UK or Ireland, is set to begin at 11.59pm on Friday, March 13th and last for 30 days. It will include all countries in Europe's Schengen zone.

That means all foreign nationals, unless they are exempt from the ban (you can read our explainer with more information here) won't be allowed to board planes for the US from Schengen countries while the ban is in place.

READ ALSO: Coronavirus: What you need to know about Trump's Europe travel ban

Permanent residents of the US are not affected by the ban as are certain family members such as their children. Children of US nationals or permanent residents will also be allowed entry.

Legal partners of US citizens or permanent residents are also not affected, as are parents of US citizens or permanent residents as long as their children are unmarried and under the age of 21.

We asked readers to tell us if they are affected and how they feel about it. 

'I am very sad'

On The Local Germany's Facebook page, Germany-based Corinna Hahn said her plans had been severely affected. Hahn said she’s in a long distance relationship and was planning on travelling to the US on March 23rd “to be with my boyfriend for three weeks”.

Danielle Pullan, who lives in Cologne, said: “I woke up to panicky messages about this from several friends and family, but as a US citizen I’m not worried. 

“This ban targets people who were traveling to the US for business or pleasure, not for family reasons. It’s ridiculous that it specifically targets Europe, leaving the US open to spread of the virus from everywhere else in the world, but what else did we expect from Trump.”

Even though the travel ban is not aimed at US citizens, some are worried about availability of flights – both to the US and on the return leg of the trip – if they are cancelled.

There are also fears the suspension could be extended.

Stefanie Kastner, another US citizen planning to fly to the US on April 18th, said she hoped flights don’t get cancelled. 

READ ALSO: Coronavirus: These are the countries banning or restricting travel from Germany

Susanne Abid said she was planning to go to a surprise wedding in the US but she won't be able to do that anymore.

Many US citizens are also worried about family members or friends visiting them and, but not being able to return due to health fears and possible flight cancellations.

Several airlines, such as Germany's Lufthansa and British Airlines, have announced that they are waiving normal cancellation or rebooking fees on some international flights. 

READ ALSO: Germany's Lufthansa to slash half of flights over coronavirus

Laura Kambach said: “My parents were planning a trip to come visit us in Germany (from the US) in April… now they won't be able to…I am very sad, but I hope they will stay safe and healthy at home!”
 
Others Americans wanted to visit relatives in the US, but had concerns about making it back across the Atlantic – or being stuck in a quarantine when they arrive if the US tightens its restrictions.
 
Danielle Keiser, an American who has lived in Germany for 10 years, had been looking forward to a five-week trip at the end of March to visit her mum and other family in California. 
 
Like many Americans abroad in Europe, she was surprised by the news first thing in the morning, and finds it hard to stomach “the idea of not being able to see my family indefinitely.”
 
“The whole world is in a standstill,” Keiser told The Local by phone from her Berlin apartment, referring to plans suddenly needing to be put on hold. “[Our generation] has never experienced anything like it.”
 
After hearing about the travel ban, American university student Rebecca Otero cut her two-month internship in Berlin a month short due to fears her original flight back to New York would be cancelled. She now leaves on Saturday.
 
“So much changes day to day,” Otero told The Local. “I don't know which rules to follow.”
 
Berlin-based Marcos Molina, 28, is from Puerto Rico and is due to marry his partner in a ceremony near Berlin on April 17th. However, as many of his wedding guests are travelling from the US and other countries, the couple are considering cancelling the wedding.

As Germany deals with a rising amount of coronavirus cases, more countries are increasing their entry controls – including body temperature checks, quarantine measures for suspected cases and individual entry bans.

People wearing protective masks in Berlin Tegel airport. Photo: DPA

Molina told The Local: “We have guests from six different countries which makes this a little bit of a nightmare.

“My guests are just freaking out and they're scared of getting stuck in the airport, or getting quarantined here in Germany, there's just so much uncertainty.

“Are the airlines going to refund them or allow them to reschedule?

“Technically the travel ban ends right before the wedding but that's assuming that they don't extend it or make it more strict.”

Molina said he and his partner will now look into the contracts they've signed and make a decision in the next weeks over what action to take.

“I think at the end of the day the question is: do we keep going and risk it?” he said.

READ ALSO: What's the latest on coronavirus in Germany and what do I need to know?

Leaders stay quiet

So far leaders in Germany have not reacted to Trump's ban but that could change throughout the day.

President of the European Council Charles Michel tweeted “we will assess the situation today.”

“Economic disruption must be avoided. Europe is taking all necessary measures to contain the spread of the COVID19 virus, limit the number of affected people and support research.”

German authorities have urged all events with over 1,000 people to be cancelled and say people should take measures to try and slow down the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

READ ALSO: Coronavirus: What restrictions are there to daily life in Germany?

Angela Merkel said on Wednesday that up to 70 percent of the German population could eventually be infected by the virus the aim was to make sure health system was not overburdened.

Merkel has also called for people to pull together and protect  vulnerable people, including the elderly or those with underlying illnesses.

“Our solidarity, our sensibility, our hearts are already being put to the test, and I hope that we will pass this test,” she said.

Member comments

  1. American citizens are not banned from travelling to the US. They will be heavily screened please point this out.

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COVID-19

Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Since the start of Germany’s Oktoberfest, the incidence of Covid infections in Munich has risen sharply. Though a connection with the festival can’t yet be proven, it seems likely.

Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Two weeks after the start of Oktoberfest, the Covid numbers in Munich have more than tripled.

On Sunday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported an incidence of 768.7 for the city of Munich, though updated figures for the end of the festival are not expected until later in the week. Usually, on weekends and public holidays, there is a delay in reports.

In the entire state of Bavaria, the incidence value on Sunday was 692.5.

According to Munich’s public health officer, Beatrix Zurek, bed occupancy in Munich hospitals has also increased. Two weeks ago, 200 beds in Munich were occupied by Covid patients, whereas there are now around 350.

Though a relationship between the sharp rise in infections with Oktoberfest, which ended on Monday, can’t be proven at the moment, it seems very likely, according to experts. A significant increase in Covid incidences has also been shown at other public festivals – about one and a half weeks after the start. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s famed Oktoberfest opens after two-year pandemic hiatus

After a two-year break due to the pandemic, around 5.7 million visitors came to this year’s Wiesn according to the festival management – around 600,000 fewer than at the last Oktoberfest before the pandemic in 2019, when there were 6.3 million.

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) took to Twitter to comment on the rise in incidence in Munich during the Oktoberfest. “This would not have been necessary if self-tests had been taken before admission,” he said.

“Compared to the price of a measure of beer, €2-3 (for tests) wouldn’t have mattered,” he said.

Even before the start of the Wiesn, he had spoken out in favour of people taking voluntary self-tests. Lauterbach stressed that now is the time for special measures against Covid.

“The development shows what will happen if the states wait too long with the mask obligation in indoor areas,” he added.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany’s new Covid-19 rules from October

In neighbouring counties, where many Oktoberfest visitors came from, the number of Covid cases has also risen noticeably.  Beatrix Zurek said that it is unclear, however, how much of a role Oktoberfest played in these figures, as people are currently much more active socially overall, with concerts and other events also taking place throughout the state.

Christoph Spinner, an infections specialist at Munich’s Klinikum, has urged people not to be alarmed by the rising numbers.

“We had expected rising incidences here. We knew that there could be a doubling, tripling, even quadrupling,” he said.

He said that this is no cause for concern, as many people have been vaccinated or have also recovered from previous Covid infections, so any new infections are therefore usually mild.

The virologist advises people over 60 or with pre-existing conditions to get a second booster vaccination, but otherwise said people shouldn’t be alarmed by the rising incidences.

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