Bavaria orders compulsory Covid-19 testing for all travellers from ‘risk zones’

Just days before Christmas, the southern German state of Bavaria is tightening rules for travellers returning from 'risk areas'.

Bavaria orders compulsory Covid-19 testing for all travellers from 'risk zones'
Bavarian state premier Markus Söder. Photo: DPA

All travellers coming into the German state of Bavaria from foreign coronavirus risk regions will be subject to compulsory coronavirus testing from Wednesday, December 23rd.

A test result must be submitted to the responsible health office no later than 72 hours after entry from an area classed by Germany as a coronavirus risk zone (see below), the Bavarian cabinet decided in Munich on Tuesday.

Holidaymakers and other arrivals can show coronavirus tests completed abroad. However, the test must not be older than 48 hours.

People who flout the rule could face a fine of up to €25,000.

“Holidays must not become a risk,” said State Premier Markus Söder, who is in isolation due to coming into contact with someone who has coronavirus.

“Safety comes first. To this end, Bavaria is introducing compulsory testing for people returning from travel.”

He urged people to avoid travel altogether.

“It is best not to travel to risk areas at all. That way, everyone remains better protected,” he stressed.

Checks being set up at borders

The federal government and states previously decided that people in Germany must complete a mandatory 10-day quarantine after arriving from a risk zone. It can be ended with a negative Covid-19 test taken five days into the quarantine at the earliest.

READ ALSO: Germany introduces new quarantine and testing rules for travellers

In practice, the new regulation means that anyone entering Bavaria from a foreign risk area must now either present a negative test upon entry or go for a test immediately. They then have to quarantine before doing another test after five days if they wish to leave quarantine earlier.

Test centres at the airports or city centres are available for this purpose, Söder said. Domestic travellers in Germany do not fall under the regulation, even if the area is classed as a hotspot.

READ ALSO: What you need to know if you're travelling to Germany from abroad at Christmas

In order to enforce the testing rule and “point out the responsibility of each individual”, there will also be checks on travellers, according to the State Chancellery.

New signs on motorways are to remind people of the rules.

Existing exemption rules – for commuters for example – remain in force, according to the State. However, commuters still have to be tested twice a week for coronavirus.

On the European mainland, there are currently only regions in France (Brittany), Greece, Estonia, Finland, Norway and Austria (two municipalities on the German border) that are not classified as risk areas by Germany.

In addition, there are regions in Ireland as well as the Portuguese island of Madeira, the French island of Corsica, a large part of the Greek islands, the British Isle of Man and the Channel Island of Guernsey as well as the Danish islands of Greenland and the Faroe Islands.

Classification as a risk area occurs when a country or region exceeds the threshold of 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the past seven days. The whole of Germany and most other countries worldwide fall into this category.





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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.