“I think that travel is something that is very hard to imagine happening over the next two to three months,” Thomas Bareiß, the tourism commissioner for the government, told broadcaster RTL on Monday.
“It will get better again from the Whitsun vacations onwards. And I hope that summer will then be a very big travel period,” he said.
The religious holiday of Whitsun falls on May 23rd this year. The Monday following Whitsun is a national holiday in Germany.
His announcement comes as Chancellor Angela Merkel reportedly told her party members that the tough Covid-19 measures in Germany will be needed for 'eight to 10 more weeks' if numbers don't improve.
Bareiß added though that once a large number of people had been vaccinated a holiday in more distant parts of the world could also be possible later in the year.
“If we really have most people vaccinated in Germany in the second quarter of the year, then it will be safe to travel in the summer,” he said.
The government’s sober assessment on travel came as the association of public health officers predicted that the lockdown would have to be extended beyond the end of January.
“I’m not at all sure that we will be able to end the lockdown at the end of this month,” said the association’s head, Ute Teichert.
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Saying that the prospect of reaching the government's target of lowering the case rate to below 50 infections per 100,000 in that time period seemed unrealistic, Teichert said. He pointed out that “relaxations of the rules will at any rate only come in steps and not all at once.”
New lockdown rules introduced on Monday mean that residents of Germany are now only allowed to meet one person at a time from outside their own household. Districts with a case rate higher than 200 per 100,000 now have a 15 kilometre travel restriction in place.
Good news on Tuesday came in the form of the Moderna vaccine, which is the second vaccine to start being delivered in Germany after the Biontech jab. The Moderna vaccine was approved by European authorities earlier this month and some 2 million doses will be administered to the population by the end of the first quarter, said Health Minister Jens Spahn.
On Tuesday the Robert Koch Institute, the German disease control agency, announced a further 12,802 positive cases over the previous 24 hours with an additional 891 deaths.
The record number of cases was recorded on December 18th at 33,777 but the agency warns that current numbers continue to paint an unreliable picture of the situation due to delays in reporting or discovering infections that occurred over the festive period.
SEE ALSO: The new 15 kilometre rule explained