UPDATE: Germany extends worldwide tourist travel warning until mid-June
The German government is extending a warning against international travel, put in place to stem the spread of coronavirus, until the middle of June.
Germany issued the warning in March advising against non-essential travel abroad, particularly against travel for tourism purposes.
It was originally extended to May 3rd, along with Germany's nationwide ‘ban on contact' measures.
However, the German Foreign Office proposed to extend the travel warning "until further notice", but at least until June 14th.
The government accepted the proposal at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
"We have not yet reached the point where we can recommend carefree travel," Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Wednesday, adding "therefore it is necessary to extend the worldwide travel warning until mid-June".
Europe's biggest economy has brought home 240,000 stranded tourists in the last four weeks, Maas said, adding that "we're not going to undertake such an action again in the coming summer".
The proposal, which was viewed in advance by German publication Spiegel, does not shed any light on whether travel will be possible after this date and during the summer holidays, which in some federal states begins at the end of June.
The situation is to be continually assessed and close coordination will take place with Germany's EU neighbours, according to the report.
The extension is justified by the fact that regular travel abroad will not be possible in the coming weeks, the report says.
According to the Foreign Office, drastic restrictions on international air traffic and worldwide entry bans or quarantine regulations are still to be expected.
On behalf of the government, the Foreign Office issued the worldwide travel warning against all unnecessary and tourist travel on March 17th for the first time in the history of the Bundesrepublik.
It is intended to minimise the further spread of coronavirus and prevent German holidaymakers from being stranded abroad en masse again.
Uncertainty over travel
Formally, the German government cannot prevent travel abroad with this warning.
However, almost all tour operators follow the guidelines issued by the Foreign Office. At present even travel within the EU is virtually impossible. The borders between the Schengen states are closed to tourists and there is a ban on entry into the EU.
Meanwhile, anyone who returns to Germany now has to go into mandatory quarantine at home for 14 days.
There are several unanswered questions over summer holidays, and travel to and from Germany.
It's a tricky topic due to the ongoing pandemic and efforts to slow the spread, but also because the travel industry fears that many companies will go bust if all customers demand their money back at the same time.
The EU Commission says that customers who want their money back have a right to it.
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The issue is also politically explosive, because an extension of the travel warning over the summer would send the signal that a return to some kind of normality by July, or even August, is probably not on the cards.
Summer holidays begin at different times in Germany depending on the state. The eastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is the first German state to start school holidays on June 22nd. And the last state to begin the summer break is Baden-Württemberg. Pupils go on holiday there from July 30th.
Could it be possible to travel to Austria?
The German government is striving for close European coordination when it comes to opening borders.
However, the Austrian government has also brought agreements between individual countries into discussion, for example to facilitate travel between Germany and Austria.
Hotels in Austria are to reopen as early as the end of May. Along with Spain, Italy, Turkey and Greece, the Alpine country is one of the five most popular travel destinations for Germans.
In non-corona times, Germans prefer to take a holiday abroad than at home. According to an analysis by the Research Association for Holidays and Travel, 74 percent of the 70.8 million vacation trips made by Germans in 2019 were abroad.
We aim to give you the most up-to-date information but please be aware that the situation is constantly changing. Check the German Foreign Office website for more details.