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Germany extends travel ban on UK and South African arrivals to January 20th

Germany has extended a ban on arrivals from the UK and South Africa over new Covid-19 variants until later this month, it has emerged.

Germany extends travel ban on UK and South African arrivals to January 20th
People at Stuttgart airport. Photo: DPA

Officials banned people arriving from these countries on December 22nd after new coronavirus variants, believed to be more infectious, were detected in these countries.

“The transport ban covers passenger traffic by train, bus, ship and flights directly from these countries,” the Health Ministry previously said in a statement.

It was due to be lifted on January 6th. However, German authorities say the ban will now be in place until at least January 20th.

However, there are some exceptions. These people are allowed to travel into Germany from the UK and South Africa:

  • German citizens regardless of their place of residence
  • EU citizens entitled to freedom of movement as well as their family members with permanent residence in Germany, including:
  • British citizens (and their family members) who were legally resident in Germany before the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31st
  • Third-country nationals with permanent residence in Germany who have a residence permit or long-term visa for Germany
  • People who are not entering Germany, who stay in the airport transit area (en route to a country outside of the Schengen area) and who meet the necessary criteria for this (confirmed onward flight and, if required, Airport Transit Visa)

READ MORE: How Brits in the UK can get back to Germany

Those people arriving in Germany have to stick to strict rules:

  • According to authorities, travellers coming into Germany from the UK or South Africa “must provide proof (in either English or German) of a negative Covid-19 test”
  • The test has to have been taken no more than 48 hours before arrival in Germany
  • “For entry into Germany, PCR, LAMP, TMA and antigen tests are all accepted,” authorities say. However, antigen tests must meet certain quality standards
  • Note that the test can no longer be taken upon or immediately after entry into Germany
  • The German government has asked transport carries to only allow travellers to board who can present proof of the test at the start of their trip
  • That means if you don't have proof of a negative test, you may be refused entry onto a flight or other mode of transport
  • When people arrive in Germany they must quarantine for 10 days (as is mandatory for everyone coming from a 'risk zone'). That quarantine can be ended with a negative test taken five days in at the earliest.

People coming from risk areas also have to fill out a form.

For information on test requirements check out this information sheet.

What else should I know?

The ban means that people cannot visit Germany, for example, from the UK or South Africa if they don't fall under the exceptions noted above. That includes tourists.

The aim is to slow down the spread of new Covid variants in continental Europe.

German scientists stress that the new variants could make it more difficult to contain the pandemic.

So far, only isolated cases of the variant have been reported, including in the states of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia. However, experts expect the numbers will increase.

Are there any complications?

Yes. British people have to prove that they are resident in Germany if they want to travel into the country. But this is complicated due to the Brexit transition period ending on December 31st 2020.

Many British people do not have their residence paperwork yet from German authorities so they have been asked to bring other proof, such as a registration document (Anmeldung) or rental contract.

However, there have been reports of people being wrongly barred from flights even though they had negative coronavirus tests and these documents.

READ MORE: 'Utter nightmare': Brits barred from flights home to Germany amid travel chaos

Some Brits have also wrongly had their passport stamped by border officials, however they have been told not to panic if this happens.

 

 

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COVID-19

Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

High profile German virologist Christian Drosten believes Germany will see a severe spike in Covid infections after summer, and that the pandemic will not become endemic this year.

Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

Drosten previously said that Germany would probably be able to declare the end of the pandemic this year.

But in an interview with Spiegel, Drosten said he had reevaluated his opinion. 

“When the Alpha variant came, it was very surprising for me. When Delta appeared I was sceptical at first, then with Omicron we had to reorient ourselves again. And since January there have already been new Omicron subtypes.

“So I would actually like to correct myself: I no longer believe that by the end of the year we will have the impression that the pandemic is over.”

READ ALSO: End is in sight for pandemic in Germany, says virologist 

Drosten also said that Germany will not see a largely Covid-free summer, which has been the case in previous years, and a further increase in infections in autumn. 

“We are actually already seeing an exponential increase in case numbers again,” Drosten said.

“The BA.5 variant (of Omicron) is simply very transmissible, and people are losing their transmission protection from the last vaccination at the same time.”

In other countries, he said, when the number of cases become high, hospitalisation and death rates also rise again. “Unfortunately, that will also be the case here,” said Drosten, but added: “Overall, however, far fewer people will become seriously ill and die than in 2021.”

Drosten said he expected many more infections from September.

“I hope that the school holidays will dampen the increase in cases somewhat. But from September, I fear we will have very high case numbers,” the head of the virology department at Berlin’s Charité hospital told Spiegel.

READ ALSO: German Health Minister lays out autumn Covid plan

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021.

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

If the government does not take any action, he predicted there would be a lot of sick leave across all industries. “That will become a real problem,” he said.

Drosten said he did not expect overcrowded intensive care units in Germany.

But the new BA.5 sub-variant, which is becoming dominant in Germany, may affect people more strongly. 

“The wheel is turning more towards disease again,” said Drosten. It is not true that a virus automatically becomes more and more harmless in the course of evolution. “That makes me even more worried about the autumn,” he said.

Drosten recommends wearing masks indoors during the colder months, saying it is “the least painful” measure.

If, in addition, “up to 40 million people could be immunised or given a booster vaccination” before winter, for example by urgently calling for company vaccinations, that would “really make a difference”, Drosten said.

In the long term, he said it’s inevitable that people will become infected with coronavirus.

He said the population immunity due to vaccinations and infections will at some point be so strong that the virus will become less important. “Then we will be in an endemic state,” said Drosten. In the worst case, however, this could take “several more winters”.

However, Drosten warned against people trying to deliberately infect themselves with Covid, saying getting the infection in summer doesn’t mean people will be protected in winter. 

Drosten himself said he has not yet contracted Covid-19.

“So far, I guess I’ve just been lucky,” he said. “I rarely put myself in risky situations, but I’m not overly cautious either.”

‘Pandemic depends on behaviour’

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI)’s latest weekly report, more outbreaks are occurring in care homes, and the number of patients in intensive care units is slightly rising as infections go up. 

The institute said there had been a 23 percent increase in the 7-day incidence compared to the previous week. On Friday the 7-day incidence stood at 618.2 infections per 100,000 people. There were 108,190 infections within the latest 24 hour period and 90 deaths. 

“The further course of the pandemic depends not only on the occurrence of new virus variants and the uptake of vaccinations on offer, it also depends to a large extent on the behaviour of the population,” said the RKI.

According to the DIVI intensive care register, the number of Covid-19 patients in ICUs had increased to 810 on Thursday this week, from about 600 at the beginning of the month.

However, that number is still low compared to previous Covid peaks when thousands of people were in intensive care in Germany. 

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