Travel: UK, Switzerland and most of Austria placed on Germany’s ‘high risk’ quarantine list

The whole of the UK and Switzerland plus most of Austria are the latest places to be added to Germany's coronavirus risk list, along with several other regions.

Travel: UK, Switzerland and most of Austria placed on Germany's 'high risk' quarantine list
Gdańsk in Poland. The whole country is classed as a risk zone. Photo: DPA

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) has significantly expanded its list of coronavirus risk areas in Europe.

On Thursday, the whole of Poland, all of Switzerland, all of Ireland and all of Liechtenstein were listed as risk zones. In Austria, eight out of nine federal states are now affected – only Carinthia is not considered a risk area.

Numerous Italian regions have also been newly classified as risk areas, including Tuscany and Lombardy, Sardinia and the autonomous province of Bolzano, i.e. South Tyrol.

The whole of the UK and Northern Ireland is also designated as a risk area, as is Gibraltar. There are also individual regions in Bulgaria, Estonia, Croatia, Sweden, Slovenia and Hungary.

Meanwhile, the Canary Islands is no longer considered a risk area.

The new list comes into force on Saturday October 24th at midnight.

Although the classification as a risk area by the RKI and the travel warnings issued by the Federal Foreign Office do not equal a travel ban, they are intended to have the greatest possible deterrent effect on tourists.

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

What happens when you return from a risk area?

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. They officially come into force as of November 8th but some areas are already implementing the changes.

The new rules mean that anyone returning to Germany from a risk zone has to go into a mandatory 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.

What does this mean for tourist travel?

The new government travel warnings mean all border areas to Germany except those in Denmark are on the risk list.

In Italy, several tourist destinations are affected including Rome, Milan, Venice, Tuscany and Sardinia. German holidaymakers who spend their autumn holidays there now have to be put in quarantine or be “freed” when they return – unless they go or fly home before Saturday.

Only a few European countries remain free of risk areas, including Greece and Cyprus.

The lifting of the travel warning for the Canary Islands should make tour operators particularly happy.

For them, the islands off the coast of Africa, with their warm climate all year round, are one of the high hopes for the winter season.

However, Germany's decision does not yet mean that people can now book their Christmas holiday under palm trees without any worries. The lifting of the travel warning for Corsica lasted just one week – so things change very quickly.

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.

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Court turns down AfD-led challenge to Germany’s spending in pandemic

The German Constitutional Court rejected challenges Tuesday to Berlin's participation in the European Union's coronavirus recovery fund, but expressed some reservations about the massive package.

Court turns down AfD-led challenge to Germany's spending in pandemic

Germany last year ratified the €750-billion ($790-billion) fund, which offers loans and grants to EU countries hit hardest by the pandemic.

The court in Karlsruhe ruled on two challenges, one submitted by a former founder of the far-right AfD party, and the other by a businessman.

They argued the fund could ultimately lead to Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, having to take on the debts of other EU member states on a permanent basis.

But the Constitutional Court judges ruled the EU measure does not violate Germany’s Basic Law, which forbids the government from sharing other countries’ debts.

READ ALSO: Germany plans return to debt-limit rules in 2023

The judgement noted the government had stressed that the plan was “intended to be a one-time instrument in reaction to an unprecedented crisis”.

It also noted that the German parliament retains “sufficient influence in the decision-making process as to how the funds provided will be used”.

The judges, who ruled six to one against the challenges, did however express some reservations.

They questioned whether paying out such a large amount over the planned period – until 2026 – could really be considered “an exceptional measure” to fight the pandemic.

At least 37 percent of the funds are aimed at achieving climate targets, the judges said, noting it was hard to see a link between combating global warming and the pandemic.

READ ALSO: Germany to fast-track disputed €200 billion energy fund

They also warned against any permanent mechanism that could lead to EU members taking on joint liability over the long term.

Berenberg Bank economist Holger Schmieding said the ruling had “raised serious doubts whether the joint issuance to finance the fund is in line with” EU treaties.

“The German court — once again — emphasised German limits for EU fiscal integration,” he said.

The court had already thrown out a legal challenge, in April 2021, that had initially stopped Berlin from ratifying the financial package.

Along with French President Emmanuel Macron, then chancellor Angela Merkel sketched out the fund in 2020, which eventually was agreed by the EU’s 27 members in December.

The first funds were disbursed in summer 2021, with the most given to Italy and Spain, both hit hard by the pandemic.