The move by Germany’s Robert Koch Institute puts Great Britain and Northern Ireland back in the lowest-level risk category, barely a month after they were taken off the list following a decline in new infections thanks to widespread vaccinations.
“The classification is due, despite (a low incidence rate), to the at least a limited occurrence of the B.1.617.2 variant in the United Kingdom,” the RKI said in a statement.
The variant, first detected in hard-hit India, is believed to be more contagious than the original strain and has been classified by the World Health Organization as a “variant of concern”.
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The British government on Friday said the variant was spreading “increasing rapidly” in parts of England, with identified cases doubling from 520 last week to 1,313 this week.
Germany this week eased rules for travellers coming from “risk areas”, the lowest of three risk levels, allowing unvaccinated people to avoid the previous 10-day quarantine if they can show a negative test.
Those who are fully vaccinated or can prove they have recovered from Covid by showing a positive PCR test that is at least 28 days old, do not need to quarantine.
Anyone coming from a risk country must still register their trip online with German authorities, and unvaccinated people entering Germany by plane must show a negative test before boarding.
The RKI on Friday also added Nepal to its list of “variant of concern” areas, the highest risk level, where it joins the likes of India, Brazil and South Africa.
Strict requirements are in place for anyone seeking to enter Germany from those countries, and even vaccinated people must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in a bid to stem the spread of more dangerous coronavirus strains.