German Health Minister urges caution as tourism slowly reopens

German Health Minister urges caution as tourism slowly reopens
Spahn speaking in Berlin on Monday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld
Health Minister Jens Spahn called on people in Germany to exercise restraint when traveling because coronavirus numbers remain high - although they have been falling.

“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.

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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.” 

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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.

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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.


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  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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