The Health Ministry put forward a plan that requires all travellers to submit a recent negative Covid-19 test – no matter where they are arriving from and which method of transport they use.
“The federal government has assured us today that it will now try everything (to introduce) by August 1st a uniform testing obligation not only for air travel but also, for example, for everyone that comes by car or train,” Markus Söder, Bavarian leader, told broadcaster ARD on Tuesday.
Söder, of the CSU, said the original proposed date for the new rules was September 11th. But he said that would have been “a joke”, adding: “by then the holidays are over, even in countries with late vacations”.
Germany’s states put pressure on the government to bring forward the new uniform entry regulations, Söder said, adding that he was told that a legal basis would be created so that the new regulations would be implemented by August 1st.
(article continues below)
See also on The Local:
“The rule is, after all, relatively simple: everyone needs a test who arrives back, so to speak, whether they come by car, train or plane,” he said.
What are the current rules?
At the moment, people travelling into Germany by plane have to show a recent negative test before departure. Those who can present proof of being fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 within the last six months do not have to take a test.
- What are the Covid-19 testing requirements for entering Germany?
- Can families with unvaccinated children holiday in Germany this summer?
The test obligation upon arrival also applies to people arriving from high-risk areas, regardless of the method of transport. But if someone is driving or taking a train from a risk free area, they do not have to show a test.
People coming from a basic risk area – such as France – are required to show a test within 48 hours of arriving in Germany.
The move would hit families hard as many children are unvaccinated – and testing rules apply to everyone over the age of 6 in Germany. Many people have chosen to go on holiday by car this year to avoid air travel.
As The Local reported on Tuesday, Health Minister Jens Spahn has been pushing to tighten the testing rules.
“The Federal Ministry of Health is in favour of extending the obligation to test on entry as quickly as possible,” a spokeswoman for Spahn said in response to a question from the media later on Tuesday, reported Spiegel.
Söder did not comment on how vaccinated and recovered people would be treated in the future.
But German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) told Bild newspaper that those who had been fully vaccinated or recovered would not have to prove a negative test result.
Seehofer and Söder said there would be spot checks on traffic rather than stationary border controls which caused large traffic jams earlier in the pandemic when Germany shut its borders.
Criticism from tourism bosses
SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach spoke out in favour of tightening the rules.
“A general obligation to test on entry to Germany for everyone who is neither fully vaccinated nor recovered makes a lot of sense from a medical point of view,” he told Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland.
“When travelling on vacation, there is basically a higher risk of becoming infected with the coronavirus because of the greater number of contacts – first of all, regardless of the travel destination and the means of transport used.”
But the German government’s tourism commissioner, Thomas Bareiß (CDU), opposes stricter entry regulations.
“The provisions of the entry regulations have served us well even in times of higher incidence – that’s what they’re designed for,” he said.
He questioned why there are moves to tighten rules when vaccination rates are rising, arguing that the focus should instead be on effectively monitoring compliance with the current rules.