Germany set to lift travel warning for parts of Spain and Portugal

The German government has sent out a major signal that Easter holidays in the sun could be back on by lifting its travel warning for Mallorca and several other popular tourist spots on the Iberian coast.

Germany set to lift travel warning for parts of Spain and Portugal
A beach in Mallorca on March 11th. Photo: Clara Margais/DPA

Starting on Sunday, Mallorca and the entire Balearic archipelago will no longer be considered risk areas for travel due to a vastly improved epidemiological situation there.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) confirmed on its website on Friday that the regions no longer had enough infections to be considered risk areas.

On Mallorca and the other Balearic islands of Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera, the 7-day incidence has dropped to 21 infections per 100,000 inhabitants within a period of seven days. The threshold for classification as a risk area by the RKI is 50.

Back in December and January the Balearic Islands had some of the highest levels of infection in Spain, but the islands now have fewer cases than any region of Germany.

READ ALSO: Will it be possible to go on holiday in Germany over Easter?

On the Spanish mainland, the coastal regions of Valencian and Murcia, where the popular destinations of Benidorm, Calpe, Javea and Denia are located, will also be removed from the risk list on Sunday.

The same goes for the regions of Extremadura, La Rioja and Castilla-La Mancha. 

Large parts of Portugal will also be taken off the list despite the presence of variant strains of the virus there.

For the entire northern half of the country (Norte and Centro regions) including Porto, the travel restrictions will be lifted completely – including the ban on airline transport. 

However, the popular southern coast of the Algarve, the Atlantic island of Madeira, and the capital Lisbon will continue to be considered risk areas. 

The removal of these regions from the list means that travellers will no longer be required to take a test on their return to Germany, nor will they need to go into quarantine. However, there will be still be rules like wearing masks and observing social distancing.

At the same time, however, the German government still advises against “all but essential travel at home and abroad”.

People flying to Spain from coronavirus risk areas (which includes Germany) do not have to go into quarantine but must present a negative PCR test that is no older than 72 hours. Antigen tests are not accepted. You also have to fill out a form before travel.

READ ALSO: The updated Covid-19 restrictions for regions of Spain

The news is likely to delight tour operators, which have been pushing hard for the removal of the Balearic Islands from the risk list. 

“The hotel industry has been preparing intensively to offer safe and responsible holidays there,” TUI Germany boss Marek Andryszak said this week.

After news came through of the new classification, Andryszak told Bild newspaper that “nothing now stands in the way of the Easter holidays in Mallorca, and our teams have prepared accordingly”.

TUI now wants to start flights to Mallorca from Hanover, Frankfurt and Düsseldorf as early as March 21st.

Currently, most hotels on the Balearic Islands are still closed for the off-season and due to the pandemic. But TUI said on Friday that the first major hotels on Majorca will start operations from next weekend. Since the beginning of March, restaurants, cafés and pubs have been allowed to reopen their outdoor areas in the town until 5pm.

Last week, the Istrian peninsula on the Croatian Adriatic was the first holiday region abroad to be taken off the risk list. 

READ MORE: What you need to know about Germany’s latest rules on foreign travel

Member comments

  1. So Germany wishes to encourage travel when we are still in lockdown? And when many of us have no financial aid – even when adhering to all the social distancing rules – and still not able to have access to a vaccine?

    1. All of your points are more pertinent than this point in about to make…but I also found it confusing that in the same Local newsletter update, the first article basically says that the German government is advising that official approval for holidays is not likely to come until the second half of May…while this article indicates that the German Government are sending a “clear message” that people can travel to Ibiza for Easter. Meanwhile in the background, we’re looking likely to be put back into a harder lockdown in the next 10 days “when” the incidence rises above 100. What’s going on 😂

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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.