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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Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Since the start of Germany’s Oktoberfest, the incidence of Covid infections in Munich has risen sharply. Though a connection with the festival can’t yet be proven, it seems likely.

Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Two weeks after the start of Oktoberfest, the Covid numbers in Munich have more than tripled.

On Sunday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported an incidence of 768.7 for the city of Munich, though updated figures for the end of the festival are not expected until later in the week. Usually, on weekends and public holidays, there is a delay in reports.

In the entire state of Bavaria, the incidence value on Sunday was 692.5.

According to Munich’s public health officer, Beatrix Zurek, bed occupancy in Munich hospitals has also increased. Two weeks ago, 200 beds in Munich were occupied by Covid patients, whereas there are now around 350.

Though a relationship between the sharp rise in infections with Oktoberfest, which ended on Monday, can’t be proven at the moment, it seems very likely, according to experts. A significant increase in Covid incidences has also been shown at other public festivals – about one and a half weeks after the start. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s famed Oktoberfest opens after two-year pandemic hiatus

After a two-year break due to the pandemic, around 5.7 million visitors came to this year’s Wiesn according to the festival management – around 600,000 fewer than at the last Oktoberfest before the pandemic in 2019, when there were 6.3 million.

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) took to Twitter to comment on the rise in incidence in Munich during the Oktoberfest. “This would not have been necessary if self-tests had been taken before admission,” he said.

“Compared to the price of a measure of beer, €2-3 (for tests) wouldn’t have mattered,” he said.

Even before the start of the Wiesn, he had spoken out in favour of people taking voluntary self-tests. Lauterbach stressed that now is the time for special measures against Covid.

“The development shows what will happen if the states wait too long with the mask obligation in indoor areas,” he added.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany’s new Covid-19 rules from October

In neighbouring counties, where many Oktoberfest visitors came from, the number of Covid cases has also risen noticeably.  Beatrix Zurek said that it is unclear, however, how much of a role Oktoberfest played in these figures, as people are currently much more active socially overall, with concerts and other events also taking place throughout the state.

Christoph Spinner, an infections specialist at Munich’s Klinikum, has urged people not to be alarmed by the rising numbers.

“We had expected rising incidences here. We knew that there could be a doubling, tripling, even quadrupling,” he said.

He said that this is no cause for concern, as many people have been vaccinated or have also recovered from previous Covid infections, so any new infections are therefore usually mild.

The virologist advises people over 60 or with pre-existing conditions to get a second booster vaccination, but otherwise said people shouldn’t be alarmed by the rising incidences.