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Travel latest: Which countries and regions are on Germany’s quarantine list?

Currently, most countries around the world are on Germany's coronavirus 'high risk' list, but many regions in Europe are affected. Here's the latest developments.

Travel latest: Which countries and regions are on Germany's quarantine list?
A flight leaving from Frankfurt. Photo: DPA

Please note this article was updated on October 19th. The situation is subject to change so keep an eye on official advice.

Throughout the pandemic, Germany has introduced travel restrictions to try and control the spread of coronavirus.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for public health maintains an updated list of risk areas. People coming from these areas have to quarantine and take a test when they arrive in Germany.

READ ALSO: Who is currently allowed to travel to Germany from outside the EU?

There are also several domestic risk areas in Germany which you should be aware of. If you live in a risk area you're affected by internal travel restrictions and there are likely tougher restrictions in place like curfews and contact restrictions.

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What is a risk area?

A risk area is any country or region outside Germany where this is an increased risk of infection of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

How many places are classed as risk regions?

Around 160 countries or regions around the world are considered to be high risk regions by Germany. They include the USA, India, Mexico, South Africa, Spain (including the Canary Islands), Belgium, and Israel.

Some of these countries, such as India, Mexico and South Africa, were included in the worldwide warning against tourist travel implemented by the German government in March.

Germany lifted the blanket travel warning from October 1st but replaced it with specific guidance. If countries are still deemed to be 'high risk', people in Germany are still warned against visiting them.

The very few non-EU countries that are not listed as risk areas include Australia, Canada, China, Vietnam, New Zealand and Japan.

Travel has been allowed in the EU since mid-June but restrictions can change when regions and countries are declared high risk.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about changes to travel and quarantine rules from October in Germany

The Federal Foreign Office updates the travel warnings on its homepage.

What are the latest developments?

As of October 19th:

Finland: the region of Ostrobothnia is considered a risk area.

France: the whole of mainland France is a risk area.

Ireland: the Mid-West, South-West, Mid-East, West and Midlands regions are now also considered as risk areas. They join the border region (since September 30th) and Dublin (since September 23rd).

Italy: the regions of Campania and Liguria are now considered as risk areas.

Croatia: the counties of Grad (city) Zagreb and Međimurska are now also considered as risk areas.

Malta: the whole country is considered a risk area.

Netherlands: the whole of the Netherlands is now considered a risk area.

Poland: the regions Kujawsko-pomorskie, Małopolskie, Podlaski, Pomorskie and Świętokrzyskie are considered as risk areas.

Portugal: the Norte region is now also considered a risk area. Lisbon has also been a risk area since September 23rd.

Sweden: the provinces of Jämtland, Örebro, Stockholm and Uppsala are considered as risk areas.

Switzerland: the cantons of Geneva, Vaud, Fribourg, Jura, Neuchâtel, Nidwalden, Schwyz, Uri, Zurich and Zug are now also considered as risk areas.

READ ALSO: Swiss go 'binge-shopping' in Germany amid fears of border closures

Slovakia: the whole country is now considered a risk area.

Slovenia: the regions of Jugovzhodna Slovenija, Pomurska and Podravska are now also considered as risk areas. They join several other regions in the country.

Hungary: the region/comitat of Veszprém is now also considered as a risk area. It joins several other regions including Budapest.

UK: England: the East Midlands and West Midlands regions are now also considered as risk areas.

They join the North East, North West and the Yorkshire and the Humber in England. Plus Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

Other developments:

The country Namibia is no longer considered a risk area.

Which other European regions are classed as risk areas?

Czech Republic – complete country since September 25th

Denmark – Hovedstaden since September 23rd

Estonia – the following regions are classified as risk areas: oIda-Viru (since September 30th)

Iceland – since September 30th

Kosovo – since June 15th

Luxemburg – (July 14th – August 20th) and again since September 25th

Romania – since October 7th

Lithuania – the following counties are classified as risk areas: Kaunas (since October 7th) Šiaulių (since September 30th)

When is an area in Germany classed as a ‘high-risk zone'?

Countries or regions are declared risk regions when there have been more than 50 new cases per 100,000 citizens in the past seven days.

The decision is made by the Federal Foreign Office, the Interior Ministry, the Health Ministry and the RKI.

Other factors are taken into account such as which measures are being taken to halt the spread of Covid-19, if it's a local or widespread outbreak plus testing strategies and rules in place such as hygiene or contact tracing.

A list of the regions considered risk areas can be found on the RKI website, which is updated regularly.

What does it mean?

Travellers returning to Germany from coronavirus risk areas must be tested and go into quarantine until the results are available.

The country is in the process of changing rules. In the coming weeks, anyone returning to Germany from a risk zone has to go into quarantine for 14 days. After five days the person affected can take a free coronavirus test and if it is negative, the quarantine period can be ended.

The implementation of this and the rules around it lies with the individual German states. Please contact the health department of the state you are visiting or living in for detailed information.

Editor's note: Please keep in mind that this article, as with all of our guides, are to provide assistance only. They are not intended to take the place of official legal advice.

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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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