“We have decided today that the travel warning for the named circle of countries will not be continued but replaced by travel advice,” Maas said, referring to EU nations plus a handful of countries in the region including Switzerland and Iceland.
Maas acknowledged that this decision “raises great hopes and expectations”. However, he said: “Travel warnings are not travel bans, and travel advice is not an invitation to travel”.
Wir haben heute beschlossen, die weltweite #Reisewarnung ab dem 15. Juni für die EU, für Schengen-assoziierte Staaten und für das Vereinigte Königreich aufheben und durch individuelle Reisehinweise ersetzen zu wollen. (1/4)
— Heiko Maas ?? (@HeikoMaas) June 3, 2020
Maas said the travel advice will make clear if people in Germany should avoid travelling to a country.
“We will provide the best available information on each country in our travel advice,” he said. As of June 15th, the guidelines will be updated daily as needed.
Germany will also be watching contagion data very carefully, he added, saying that warnings could be reintroduced if new infections were to reach 50 per 100,000 people in a week in the country concerned.
No further repatriation programmes
The travel warning will be lifted for Germany's 26 partner countries in the EU, as well as the UK (which has left the EU but it's currently still the transition period), and the four states of the border-free Schengen area, which are not members of the EU: Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
According to Maas, travel to the UK will not be recommended, for example, as long as a 14-day quarantine for people arriving to the country applies there.
Maas said that travel outside of the specified countries is not yet permitted. Germany is to wait for the EU to make a decision on this.
Meanwhile, Maas reiterated that there would be no further recall action for holidaymakers stranded abroad. After the coronavirus outbreak, the German government brought some 240,000 German tourists back to the country in a costly operation.
The Foreign Minister also said in a tweet that the pandemic was “far from over” and that “together we must prevent tourism from leading to a second wave”.
“It depends on the personal responsibility of each individual,” he added.
On March 17th, Maas took the unprecedented step of issuing a blanket warning against tourist travel worldwide because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Until that point, travel warnings were only issued in the event of danger to life, especially in war zones such as Syria or Afghanistan.
But with new infections sharply down, the government is looking for ways to get the economy up and running again.
Germany reported just 342 new cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday June 3rd – down from more than 6,000 a day at the height of new infections in March.
The EU set out plans in May for a phased restart of travel this summer, with EU border controls eventually lifted and measures to minimise the risks of infection, like wearing face masks on shared transport.
Countries opening borders
Some countries have already started reopening their borders in a bid to revive the embattled tourism industry.
Italy reopened to travellers from Europe on Wednesday, and Austria is lifting restrictions in mid-June with Germany, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.
Other countries, such as Belgium and Britain, are still advising against, or forbidding, all non-essential travel abroad.