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‘We can’t risk Germans bringing virus back’ from non-EU travel

The German government on Wednesday extended a travel warning for countries outside the EU until August 31st over ongoing concerns linked to the coronavirus pandemic, in a blow to top summer destinations like Turkey.

'We can't risk Germans bringing virus back' from non-EU travel
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. Photo: DPA

Germany introduced an unprecedented warning against all foreign travel in mid-March at the height of the coronavirus outbreak.

But from Monday, Germans will be able to travel freely again to EU member states as well Britain, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the decision to extend the travel warning for so-called third countries – those outside the EU and the no-passport Schengen zone – was necessary because of a lack of “shared criteria and coordination processes” with those countries in case of a virus flare-up.

“We cannot and will not risk that Germans become stranded all over the world this summer or that those returning from holiday bring the virus back to Germany,” Maas said in a statement.

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Turkey will be among those hardest hit by the extended travel ban, as the Mediterranean country is Germans' third favourite destination after Spain and Italy.

Thailand and Egypt are also popular holiday spots for Germans during the European summer holiday period.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet however also agreed that exceptions could be made to lift travel warnings on a case-by-case basis, depending on “a positive development in the pandemic” and other criteria such as a country's health system and clear rules on social distancing and mask-wearing.

Likewise, Germany can decide to reimpose travel bans on EU countries that report a spike in Covid-19 cases.

'Freedom of movement is being restored'

In a separate press conference, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer welcomed the end of Germany's border checks with its neighbours from Monday as EU countries gradually return to pre-pandemic, frictionless travel.

“Freedom of movement is being restored in the European Union,” Seehofer said.

European governments are under pressure to reopen their economies and ease lockdown restrictions now that the coronavirus is deemed under control in many countries on the continent.

With the tourism industry particularly badly damaged by the border closures, flight cancellations and hotel shutdowns of the past months, businesses are hoping that a busy summer season will make up for some of the losses.

The first German holidaymakers are already expected to arrive in the Balearic Islands on Monday, as a test before Spain fully reopens its international borders.

Member comments

  1. What happens to so many expats who want to visit their parents or loved ones who are not well in non EU countries. I guess it’s not a concern for government.

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Could sleeper trains offer Germans cheap, low-carbon travel across Europe?

Several political parties in Germany have said they want to bring back sleeper trains in order to meet carbon emissions targets.

Could sleeper trains offer Germans cheap, low-carbon travel across Europe?
A sleeper train in Austria. Photo: dpa/APA | Georg Hochmuth

The Green party have said that they want to put state subsidies into night trains that will connect Germany with cities as far flung as St Petersburg in the north and Lisbon in the south.

According to the environmentalist party’s plans, 40 night rail lines could connect 200 destinations across the continent including islands like Mallorca, which would be linked in by train and ferry.

The Greens want the EU to buy a fleet of sleeper trains that could travel at speeds of between 200 km/h and 250 km/h.

The CDU have also announced plans to rebuild the country’s sleeper train services.

Deutsche Bahn stopped its last sleeper service in 2016 citing the high costs involved in maintaining its fleet that was not recuperated through ticket sales.

Earlier this year the state owned company said it had “no plans” to purchase new sleeper wagons.

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