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HEALTH

Germany set to lift travel warning for 31 countries

The German government wants to lift the worldwide travel warning for tourists for 31 European countries from June 15th, if the coronavirus situation continues to improve within Europe.

Germany set to lift travel warning for 31 countries
Archive photo shows German tourists in Mallorca. Photo: DPA

In addition to Germany's 26 partner countries in the European Union, these include the UK, and the four states of the border-free Schengen area, which are not members of the EU: Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. 

These are the findings of a draft policy paper entitled “Criteria for Enabling Intra-European Tourism”, which is to be adopted by Germany's Cabinet as early as Wednesday.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) had issued the worldwide travel warning on March 17th – a step that is unprecedented to date – and extended it on April 29th.

READ ALSO: Germany extends worldwide travel tourist warning until mid-June

Until now, Germany has only issued travel warnings to areas which posed life danger, especially in war zones such as Syria or Afghanistan.

The lifting of the travel warning should give a starting signal for cross-border summer trips in Europe just in time for the holiday season. 

“The revival of tourism is important both for travellers and the German travel industry and for economic stability in the respective destination countries”, says the draft from the Federal Foreign Office.

The travel warning is to be replaced by individual travel advice, which will point out the risks for each individual country. 

Staying safe while travelling

In order to ensure the best possible protection of tourists against a coronavirus infection, the Federal Government intends to lobby the EU to adopt a number of common criteria.

Among other things, it proposes that the upper limit of 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days be adopted by the other European countries. 

In Germany, exceeding this limit will lead to the reintroduction of anti-corona measures which have already been scraped.

READ ALSO: State by state: Where and when can I travel within Germany?

The paper also implores individual countries to develop “sustainable concepts” for the observance of distance rules and hand hygiene, the wearing of masks, and the ventilation and disinfection of rooms. 

The ideas should also include plans for holidaymakers who fall ill and provide evidence of sufficient test capacities, quarantine and treatment options. 

In addition, the paper recommends that safety measures for passengers and personnel, for example on airplanes, be implemented.

 

Member comments

  1. That’s what I would like to know. Are the Americans allowed to travel to Germany as well, and under guidelines?

  2. Yes Americans are included in
    The German government wants to lift the worldwide travel warning for tourists

  3. The USA is not in the list of 31 countries mentioned here, and quite frankly Germany and most European countries would be crazy to allow Americans in at this time. I am an American living in the USA, and I have dear friends in Germany I desperately wanted to visit this summer, but it is just not a sensible idea from their perspective. We have way too many uncontrolled infections, and there will be a huge spike by the middle of June from all of our Memorial Day celebrations.

  4. Portugal
    Reopening Date: reopen date 6 June
    Conditions: Controversially, the opening includes citizens of the United States, Brazil, Canada, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Norway, Iceland, Venezuela, and the nations of the European Union—but excludes people from Italy and Spain.

    Sweden will also allow Americans being it was never official closed

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COVID-19 RULES

Bavaria signals end to compulsory masks on public transport

Bavaria's state premier Markus Söder (CSU) has announced plans for a "prompt" end to mandatory masks on buses and trains.

Bavaria signals end to compulsory masks on public transport

If infection levels and hospitalisations remain low, the end of the mask-wearing rule could come as soon as December or January.

“We are convinced that the mask requirement in public transport could also be phased out either in mid-December or early next year, if the numbers remain reasonably stable and there are no new mutations,” Söder explained on Monday, following a meeting with the CSU executive committee. 

A decision on when to end the measure would be made “promptly”, he added.

The CSU politician had said last week that the sinking infection rates meant that compulsory masks were no longer appropriate and that the mandate could be changed to a recommendation. 

No set date for change

The latest version of Bavaria’s Infection Protection Act – which lays out an obligation to wear masks on public transport as one of the few remaining Covid rules – is currently due to expire on December 9th.

State ministers could decide whether to let obligatory masks on buses and trains lapse on this date as early as next week, or they could decide to initially extend the legislation and set an alternative date for ending the rule.

Regardless of their decision, FFP2 masks will continue to be mandatory on long-distance public transport until at least April next year, when the nationwide Infection Protection Act is due to expire.

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

Speaking to Süddeutsche Zeitung on Monday after the meeting of the Council of Ministers, Florian Herrmann (CSU), head of the State Chancellery, confirmed that Covid-19 had been discussed in passing.

However, no decisions or discussions were made on how to proceed after the expiry of the regulation, he said.

According to Herrmann, the fact that Covid was no longer the “dominant topic” in the cabinet under “enormous tension” shows “that we are returning to normality” in a gradual transition from pandemic to endemic. 

As of Wednesday, the 7-day incidence of Covid infections per 100,000 people stood at 108 in Bavaria, down from 111 the previous day. However, experts have cast doubt on how meaningful the incidence is in light of the fact that fewer people are taking tests.

Nevertheless, the 133 hospital beds occupied by Covid patients in the Free State falls well below the 600 threshold for a ‘red alert’. With Omicron causing less severe courses of illness than previous variants, politicians have increasingly focussed on hospitalisation statistics to gauge the severity of the situation.

‘A risk-benefit trade-off’

Bavaria is the second federal state to announce plans to relax its mask-wearing rules in recent weeks.

On November 14th, the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein announced that it would be ending obligatory FFP2 masks on public transport and urged other states to do the same. From January 2023, masks on public transport will only be recommended rather than mandated for passengers on local buses and trains. 

However, the Federal Ministry of Health has urged states not to loosen their rules too quickly.

Given that infection rates are likely to spike again in winter, “there’s no basis for loosening restrictions”, said Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD).

Physicians are also split on whether an end to masks on public transport is appropriate.

READ ALSO: Will Germany get rid of masks on public transport?

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) speaks at the German Hospital Day in Düsseldorf on November 14th. Lauterbach is against the lifting of the mask-wearing rule. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Roberto Pfeil

Christoph Spinner, a virologist at the University Hospital in Munich, told Süddeutsche Zeitung he believed it was time to put the decision on mask-wearing back into the hands of individuals.

“Why not? The incidences are low, the danger of Covid-19 has dropped significantly and mortality has also decreased,” he said. 

But the Bavarian General Practitioners’ Association spoke out against the move, arguing that – unlike a trip to a restaurant or cinema – people often have no choice but to travel on public transport.

“If the obligation to wear a mask in public transport is maintained, this will help to protect against a Covid infection on the way to work by bus or train – especially in view of the discontinuation of the obligation to isolate in the event of a Covid infection,” they explained.

Bavaria is one of four states to have recently ended mandatory isolation for people who test positive for Covid. Baden-Württemberg and Schleswig-Holstein both scrapped their isolation mandate last week, while Hesse removed its obligation on Tuesday. 

READ ALSO: Four German states call for end to mandatory Covid isolation

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