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HEALTH

Germany to order all arriving travellers to self-quarantine

Germany will put all arriving travellers in quarantine for 14 days, the interior ministry said Monday, as the government ramps up entry curbs to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Germany to order all arriving travellers to self-quarantine
Police guard the border of Germany and the Czech Republic in Bärenstein, Saxony on Wednesday, April 1st. Photo: DPA

The measure, which will come into force on April 10th, is expected to affect mostly German or EU nationals and residents, as the European Union has already banned all arrivals from outside the bloc.

It applies for all modes of transport, whether plane, boat, car or train.

Workers in the health sector living outside Germany in border regions will be exempted from the restriction, which will also not apply for business travellers or technicians entering for a short period of time.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's government had decided on the toughened rule during a cabinet meeting focus on the battle against the coronavirus pandemic.

Since March 16th, temporary border controls have been carried out on the borders with Austria, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg and Denmark.

READ ALSO: Germany imposes border controls with five countries due to coronavirus pandemic

In border regions where there are no controls, Germany's federal police use the existing search and control instruments. This means that people entering from these areas can also be sent to quarantine or deported back if they are approached by the police within a 30-kilometre radius of the border.

During the same meeting, which is ongoing, ministers agreed that 100 percent of loans made by banks to small- and medium-sized firms will be guaranteed by the state.

The federal government will stand fully behind 500,000 of lending to companies with up to 50 employees and 800,000 for larger ones, upping its guarantee level from a previous 80 percent for large firms or 90 percent for smaller ones.

 

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COVID-19 RULES

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

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