German Health Minister urges caution as tourism slowly reopens

Health Minister Jens Spahn called on people in Germany to exercise restraint when traveling because coronavirus numbers remain high - although they have been falling.

German Health Minister urges caution as tourism slowly reopens
Spahn speaking in Berlin on Monday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

“The feeling is better than the situation at the moment,” Spahn said in Berlin on Monday.

His comments come as more states are announcing plans to reopen tourism, outdoor dining and cultural life. Bavaria will open hotels and tourist infrastructure on May 21st in areas with low incidence rates.

Furthermore, a few states such as Meckenburg-Western Pomerania and Schleswig-Holstein have already begun allowing tourists to visit, with restrictions.


Yet travellers need to keep in mind that it’s not only the destination that counts, but also the journey, said Spahn, pointing out that it’s also possible to pick up the virus en route.

Spahn also warned that steps to loosen restrictions must be taken carefully, for example by only reopening public life in small districts with lower infection rates rather than entire regions or states at a time.

“Also for self-protection of the regions, it makes a lot of sense not to endanger it right at the beginning by too much mobility.” 

On Monday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported 6,922 Covid infections within the last 24 hours and 54 deaths. A week ago, the RKI reported 9,160 cases.

The numbers are usually lower on Monday due to delays in reporting and testing over the weekend.

According to the RKI, the number of new infections per 100,000 residents reported within seven days (the 7-day incidence) was 119.1 nationwide on Monday morning – a massive decrease from the previous week when it was 146.9.

The incidence has been declining relatively steadily for about two weeks.

‘Summer can be quite good’

Yet top virologist Christian Drosten from Berlin’s Charite hospital had a more hopeful note about the coming summer months.

“I think that towards June we will see effects for the first time that can be attributed to vaccination,” the director of virology at the Charité University Hospital told ZDF on Sunday evening: “Summer can be quite good in Germany.”

Especially outdoors, it’s likely that many aspects of public life will be allowed again, whether grilling with friends or eating in the patios of restaurants.

He also thought it was likely tourism would reopen throughout the entire country over the course of summer.

READ ALSO: When (and how) will Germany relax Covid-19 restrictions?

As the year goes on, herd immunity – either through vaccinated people or those who have already recovered from the virus – will continue improve the overall situation, Drosten added.

“The disease will not be gone in the autumn,” as un-vaccinated people will continue to catch the virus and get sick, Drosten said. 

But uncontrolled spread is unlikely to continue as it did in the late months of 2020, when Germany continued to tighten its lockdown measures, which have now been in place in various forms since November.

Member comments

  1. I’m always surprised at what they consider “high” numbers. It’s like 1 in 1000 per week. That doesn’t seem high at all.

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Is Leipzig really Germany’s ‘ultimate travel destination’?

The Saxonian city of Leipzig has been named by traveller’s bible Lonely Planet as its “ultimate” travel tip for Germany. Does the Local Germany’s knowledgeable readership agree?

The city centre of Leipzig.
The city centre of Leipzig. Photo: Jan Woitas/dpa-Zentralbild

Long a cult favourite among Germany fans, the left-wing city of Leipzig appears to now be gaining mainstream recognition after the Lonely Planet crowned it the country’s top travel destination this week.

In a new book titled “Ultimate German Travel Destinations – the top 250”, the travel publisher put Leipzig ahead of picturesque getaways such as Lake Constance and the Zugspitze as its number one destination.

“The hype that some say surrounds the city isn’t hype t all: Leipzig really is hipper than Berlin, and hotter than Munich, especially among millennials,” the guidebook boldly claims.

It goes on to lavish praise on the city of 600,000 inhabitants as “young, exciting, multifaceted – sometimes colourful, sometimes grey – and with a vibrant liveliness.”

“Everyone wants to go to the city where the anti-GDR demonstrations started,” the guidebook continues. “It is the home of Auerbachs Keller (made famous by Goethe and Faust); it’s the city of street art and wave gothic festivals; and its artistic scene at the Baumwollspinnerei is second to none.”

READ ALSO: A love letter to the eastern German city of Leipzig

‘Not cooler than Berlin’

Reaction to the list among the Local’s readership was mixed.

“It is a beautiful city and it’s easy to navigate. I find it hard to say that it’s cooler than Berlin, though. Berlin simply has more,” one reader told us on Facebook. “It’s the kind of place where people find their ‘spot.” I think most people in Leipzig know about most places in Leipzig. It’s a much smaller city. That may just be a more favourable lifestyle for some.”

Praise for Saxony’s biggest city ranged from admiration for the beauty of its architecture (particularly its train station) to the vibrancy of its arts scene.

Others suggested that Leipzig is indeed overhyped and that it can’t compete with natural wonders such as the pristine Königssee in the Bavarian Alps.

Lake Constance wins silver

Lake Constance, the country’s largest body of fresh water, came in second on the list.

The authors praised the southern See, which borders Switzerland and Austria, for “the many beautiful spots on its shores: Lindau, Meersburg, Überlingen, Constance and more – often surrounded by lush orchards.”

A regatta on the Bodensee in September 2021. Photo: dpa | Felix Kästle 

Hamburg’s new Elbphilharmonie concert hall came in third. 

“It’s impossible to imagine the Hanseatic city’s skyline without this glass work of art, which soars into the sky above the harbour like a frozen wave,” the book notes.

Also in the top ten were the Wattenmeer, which is a huge nature reserve on the North Sea coast, Berlin’s museum island, the sandstone hills of Saxony, and Germany’s highest peak, the Zugspitze in Bavaria.