Germany warns against tourist travel to parts of Spain

German authorities have warned against non-essential travel to parts of Spain, including popular tourist destination Barcelona, as coronavirus infection numbers rise again over the holiday season.

Germany warns against tourist travel to parts of Spain
People at a beach in Barcelona on July 18th. Photo: DPA

The warning comes as Germany grapples with a surge of infections, fuelling fears of a second coronavirus wave.

Holidaymakers returning from abroad have stoked particular concern.

Germany's Foreign Ministry updated its travel advisory on Tuesday, recommending against travel to three regions in northern Spain dealing with renewed outbreaks.

“Non essential, tourist travel to the autonomous communities of Aragon, Catalonia and Navarra are currently discouraged due to renewed high levels of infections and local lockdowns,” said the German Foreign Ministry in an updated travel advisory note.

The official recommendation therefore affects the popular tourist destinations of Barcelona, the Costa Brava and Spanish Pyrenees region.

Spain is one of Germany's most popular holiday destinations. Despite the regional warnings, there is still no travel warning for the entire country. For example, the Balearic islands, which include Mallorca, and southern parts of Spain are not affected.

The only EU country or state with a travel warning in place from Germany is currently Luxembourg.

Coronavirus numbers in Spain rising

Spain's cumulative coronavirus rate has been growing in recent weeks, but with large regional disparities.

A spike in the infection rate in the northern regions of Catalonia (63.1 per 100,000 inhabitants), Aragón (160.1 per 100,000) and Navarre (79.2 per 100,000) have pushed Spain's average up to 39.4 per 100,000 inhabitants, far higher than Germany's infection rate of 7.7 (data from European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control).  

The travel advice by the German government follows the UK's sudden decision on Saturday to impose a 14-day quarantine on British holidaymakers returning from Spain

The Spanish government is fighting to save the country's tourism industry, arguing that other popular holiday hotspots such as the Canary Islands, the Balearic Islands, Andalusia and the Valencia region have a far lower rate of infections.

On Monday, Germany announced it would introduce compulsory coronavirus testing for residents returning from risk areas.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Germany's plans for mandatory Covid-19 tests for returning travellers

Germany has so far recorded a total of 206,242 coronavirus cases and 9,122 deaths.

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Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

German health ministers say that tougher Covid restrictions should come back into force if a serious wave emerges in autumn.

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

Following a video meeting on Monday, the health ministers of Germany’s 16 states said tougher restrictions should be imposed again if they are needed. 

“The corona pandemic is not over yet – we must not be deceived by the current declining incidences,” said Saxony-Anhalt’s health minister Petra Grimm-Benne, of the Social Democrats, who currently chairs the Conference of Health Ministers (GMK).

According to the GMK, new virus variants are expected to appear in autumn and winter. Over the weekend, federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) also warned that the more dangerous Delta variant could return to Germany. “That is why the federal Ministry of Health should draw up a master plan to combat the corona pandemic as soon as possible and coordinate it with the states,” Grimm-Benne said.

Preparations should also include an amendment of the Infection Protection Act, ministers urged. They want to see the states given powers to react to the infection situation in autumn and winter. They called on the government to initiate the legislative process in a timely manner, and get the states actively involved.

The current Infection Protection Act expires on September 23rd this year. Germany has loosened much of its Covid restrictions in the last months, however, face masks are still compulsory on public transport as well as on planes. 

READ ALSO: Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

The health ministers said that from autumn onwards, it should be possible for states to make masks compulsory indoors if the regional infection situation calls for it. Previously, wearing a Covid mask was obligatory in Germany when shopping and in restaurants and bars when not sitting at a table. 

Furthermore, the so-called 3G rule for accessing some venues and facilities – where people have to present proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test – should be implemented again if needed, as well as other infection protection rules, the ministers said. 

Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek, of the CSU, welcomed the ministers’ unanimous call for a revision of the Infection Protection Act. “The states must be able to take all necessary infection protection measures quickly, effectively, and with legal certainty,” he said.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s health minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) warned that no one should “lull themselves into a false sense of security”.

“We must now prepare for the colder season and use the time to be able to answer important questions about the immunity of the population or the mechanisms of infection chains,” he said.

On Tuesday, Germany reported 86,253 Covid infections within the latest 24 hour period, as well as 215 Covid-related deaths. The 7-day incidence stood at 437.6 infections per 100,000 people. However, experts believe there could be twice as many infections because lots of cases go unreported. 

READ ALSO: Five things to know about the Covid pandemic in Germany right now