Germany lifts travel warning for 27 European countries

After three months, the German government has partially lifted the worldwide travel warning for tourists, giving the starting signal for summer holidays.

Germany lifts travel warning for 27 European countries
Travellers at Munich airport on June 15th. Photo: DPA

On Monday June 15th, the Federal Foreign Office removed a warning against travelling for non-essential reasons to 27 European countries. These include popular holiday destinations for Germans such as Italy, Austria, Greece, France and Croatia.

However, four countries in the EU and the border-free Schengen area still have to wait for the travel warning issued on March 17th due to the spread of Covid-19 to be lifted.

Among those countries with a warning still in place is the most popular holiday destination for Germans: Spain. In Spain, like Finland and Norway, there is still an entry ban to tourists.

Spain is to open its borders to members of the EU's Schengen Zone and the UK on June 21st. However, Spain is allowing thousands of Germans to fly to its Balearic Islands for a trial run starting Monday – waiving its 14-day quarantine for the group.

Meanwhile, for one EU country – Sweden – the travel warning is still in place due to a large number of new Covid-19 infections there.

READ ALSO: What are the rules for travelling abroad from Germany this summer?

Advice for individual countries.

The warning has been replaced with detailed travel advice for each country. However, even though there is no blanket warning, the German government has issued strong recommendations.

For example, travel to the UK, Ireland and Malta is strongly advised against on the Federal Foreign Office website because in these countries a two-week quarantine is still required on entry.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Germany's quarantine rules after travel

In the UK advice section it says: “Non-essential tourist travel to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, including British Overseas Territories, is currently strongly discouraged due to the need for a 14-day quarantine on entry.”

The website includes information on the infection situation in countries, entry requirements, possible restrictions on freedom of movement in the country and hygiene rules.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas had issued the worldwide travel warning against tourist travel from Germany on March 17th at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Prior to this, travel warnings were only issued in the event of danger to life and limb, for example in war zones such as Syria and Afghanistan.

The warning against travel outside EU countries remains in place until August 31st.

Travel warnings are not legally binding, so it's still possible for people to travel as long as the destination allows.

However, when authorities advise against travel, it has an impact on things like travel insurance validity, so people who take a non-essential trip against the advice and find themselves stranded or in need of assistance may end up heavily out of pocket.

Border checks ending

It came as Germany was set to end border checks with its neighbours introduced to fight the coronavirus on Monday night.

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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.