SHARE
COPY LINK

TRAVEL

Christmas: Is it possible to travel within Germany under new rules?

Is travelling to another federal state allowed during the Christmas holidays?

Christmas: Is it possible to travel within Germany under new rules?
A quiet road in Frankfurt. Photo: DPA

Germany is to toughen coronavirus measures from Wednesday December 16th until January 10th. Under the new rules, non-essential shops and schools will close, people can't drink alcohol in public and the sale of fireworks is banned.

From December 24th to 26th, the contact restrictions will be eased slightly. So can you travel to visit people during this time?

Is travel banned?

First of all, travel is not banned. However, the government and states have urged people against travelling unless it is absolutely necessary.

“The federal Government and the Länder (states) urge all citizens to refrain from non-essential travel in Germany and abroad between now and January 10th,” says the agreement.

Non-essential travel includes tourist travel.

The government and states also emphasise that entry into Germany from foreign risk areas means a compulsory 10-day quarantine period. The quarantine can only be ended by a negative test taken at the earliest on the fifth day after entry.

Tests are no longer free in Germany after non-essential travel.

So if you decide to travel somewhere abroad that's a risk zone, keep in mind you'll have to quarantine when you get back.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about travel within Germany (and abroad) at Christmas

What happens if you decide to travel within Germany?

Despite the call to avoid travel, if you decide to go to another German state over the holidays, you must familiarise yourself with the coronavirus regulations of that particular region.

 For those travelling to another federal state, there's also the question of accommodation.

At the moment hotels are only allowed to serve guests who are travelling for essential reasons such as business. Tourist stays are not allowed.

However, some states, including Berlin, Bremen and Hesse said they were to allow relatives visiting family at Christmas to stay in hotels or other overnight accommodation.

At the moment this still seems to be the case in Berlin, Bremen, Lower Saxony,  and Thuringia. Other states are still deciding on this.

Some states, including Bavaria, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, North Rhine-Westphalia, Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg have said they will not allow this.

Berlin mayor Michael Müller, however, emphasised that people must consider not travelling.

“If it is a trip that is not of a tourist nature, then there is also a possibility to stay overnight in the hotels,” he said after a Senate meeting.

“But the starting point is different. Staying at home is the urgent appeal, not travelling around.”

In Müller's view, necessary visits to relatives are different to tourist trips, because the former do not involve sightseeing or shopping.

The situation is subject to change so you must check your local state rules in the coming days, as well as the hotel or overnight accommodation you're thinking about. It would not be a great start to the holiday season if you travel somewhere only to be turned away at the door.

The opening of hotels to relatives is a contentious issue in Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel last week slammed the idea of states opening for relatives, saying it was the wrong move and created “incentives” for travel.

READ ALSO: 'A trip home is impossible': How foreign residents in Germany plan to celebrate Christmas

How can you get around?

Travel by car is probably the safest option since you won't come into contact with other members of the public.

If you don't want to travel across Germany by car, there are alternatives: Deutsche Bahn, for example, is making extra trains available. 

A new reservation system also aims to ensure more free seats on trains – and distance between passengers.

The coach company Flixbus is also offering journeys again from December 17th.

Travelling by plane is also still an option although hygiene and distance rules apply at German airports and within planes.

For more information read our story on travel in Germany and abroad during the festive season here. Please also keep up to date with your local coronavirus rules.

Member comments

  1. Dear Author, there is important information missing or need to be clarified. Are there any hours limitation we should respect during travel by car or by train? For example, have I return from domestic travel before 20/21 o’clock or etc

    Thank You in advance.

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

TRAVEL NEWS

Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

The UK is set to scrap all Covid-19 travel restrictions in what the government described as a "landmark moment".

Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

Testing is no longer required for vaccinated travellers, but the UK government has announced that it will scrap all Covid-19 travel rules on Friday, March 18th.

“As one of the first major economies to remove all its remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions, this is a landmark moment for passengers and the travel and aviation sector,” said the Government in a press release. 

From 4am on March 18th:

  • Passengers going to the UK will no longer be required to fill out a Passenger Locator Form before travel;
  • Passengers who are not vaccinated will not be required to take a pre-departure Covid test, or a Day 2 test following arrival. Fully vaccinated travellers are already exempt from having to do this;
  • Hotel quarantine for travellers coming from ‘red list’ countries, of which there are currently none, will also be scrapped by the end of the month. 

“We will continue monitoring and tracking potential new variants, and keep a reserve of measures which can be rapidly deployed if needed to keep us safe,” said UK Health Minister Sajid Javid. 

The UK has lifted all Covid-related rules including mask rules and mandatory self-isolation if you test positive for Covid.

Some European countries still have Covid restrictions in place for unvaccinated people coming from the UK. 

Until March 18th

Until the new rules come into effect, all travellers are required to fill out a passenger locator form. 

Unvaccinated travellers are also required to take pre-departure test and a test on or before Day 2 following their arrival. 

The UK border officers will recognise proof of vaccination provided with an EU Covid Certificate.

For the UK “fully vaccinated” means 14 days after your final dose of a EMA/FDA or Swiss approved vaccine (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson). 

After a period of confusion, the UK government says that it will accept mixed doses administered in the EU (eg one dose of AstraZeneca and one of Pfizer).

However people who have only had a single dose after previously recovering from Covid – which is standard practice in some European countries – are not accepted as vaccinated by the UK.

SHOW COMMENTS