SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

TRAVEL NEWS

REVEALED: Germany’s plans to curb Delta wave with new Covid travel rules

The German Health Ministry is proposing widespread changes to travel rules, including a major rethink on how 'risk areas' are categorised, in order to slow down the spread of the fourth Covid wave.

REVEALED: Germany's plans to curb Delta wave with new Covid travel rules
A driver is stopped by police at the border between Germany and the Czech Republic. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/CTK | Ondøej Hájek

The proposals were set out in a draft law that was obtained by DPA on Wednesday. The law could be finalised as early as Friday and come into force on August 1st.

Here’s a look at what the government is proposing. Keep in mind these aren’t set in stone yet. We’ll update you when we get more information. 

Tougher testing rules 

In the draft, the Health Ministry sets out its plans for comprehensive Covid testing for non-vaccinated travellers, regardless of whether they travel by air, road or rail.

From next week, people arriving in Germany by car could be asked to present a negative test result in randomised checks at the border, while cross-border rail travellers might be asked to present their test result, or proof of vaccination or recovery, while onboard on the train. 

As before, air travellers will need to present their test, or proof of vaccination or recovery, before boarding the plane. 

There are some exceptions for people who need to make short trips across the border regularly, however, such as cross-border commuters. For this set of people, compulsory tests would only be required if they enter from areas with particularly high infections.

READ ALSO: Germany to order mandatory Covid tests for all returning unvaccinated travellers ‘from August

Equally, tests for this group of travellers would only be required twice a week, rather than for every trip. 

No more ‘basic risk areas’

The ministry is also proposing a shake-up of the existing risk categories for foreign countries. If passed, the new law would see the ‘basic risk area’ category completely removed, while the ‘high incidence’ category could apply to a wider group of countries.

At present, regions with an 7-day incidence of between 200 and 500 Covid infections per 100,000 people can be classed high-incidence areas – but only if the RKI believes they post a particularly high risk of infection to travellers. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Germany’s new quarantine rules for vaccinated travellers

From August 1st, however, the definition will be loosened slightly, so that countries with a 7-day incidence of “well over 100” infections per 100,000 people could also fall into this category. 

While all travellers to Germany must present a negative test or proof of vaccination or recovery in order to enter the country, arrivals from a high-incidence area also face the prospect of a 10-day quarantine.

Some travellers are able to end this immediately by submitting their certificates of vaccination or recovery, but those who rely on a negative test can only end self-isolation after five days by taking a PCR test. 

High infections ‘should be delayed as long as possible’

According to DPA, the Health Ministry want to rush through the plans in order to hold back the tide of new Covid infections largely fuelled by the more transmissible Delta variant for as long as possible.

With the new rules in place, Germany could “curb the entry of additional infections and to keep the number of infections low in order to be able to further increase the vaccination rates during this time,” the draft revealed.

READ ALSO: European health authorities warn of surge in Delta variant infections

“The next wave of high infections – which is to be expected according to current forecasts – should be delayed as far back as possible.”

On Thursday 3,142 cases were reported within 24 hours in Germany, and 21 deaths. The incidence rate rose to 16 cases per 100,000 residents within seven days – up from an incidence of around 5 earlier in July. 

On Wednesday, a private memo from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) allegedly warned political decision-makers that Germany was seeing the start of a fourth wave.

READ ALSO: Germany at ‘start of fourth wave’ – but Covid infections are slowing

In the document obtained by Bild, RKI chief Lothar Wieler is said to have urged politicians to follow a strategy of prevention and attempt to keep the incidence of infections as low as possible. 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

READER INSIGHTS

‘Horrible queues’: What Frankfurt airport is really like this summer

A recent survey placed two German airports among the worst in the world this summer for delayed flights. The Local readers told us Frankfurt airport is particularly bad.

'Horrible queues': What Frankfurt airport is really like this summer

It’s well known that flying can be a nightmare at the moment, whether there are delays, cancellations, long queues or lost luggage. 

According to a recent ranking by FlightAware, Germany’s largest airport in Frankfurt saw 45.4 percent of its flights delayed between May 26th and July 19th, while Munich airport had 40.4 percent of flights disrupted. 

We decided to ask The Local readers what their experience of flying to or from these airports has been this summer. 

Around 30 people answered our survey last week – and of those, just over 32 percent said their flight from one of these two German airports had been cancelled. Meanwhile, 60.7 percent of those surveyed said their flight was delayed. 

Missed connections

Frankfurt airport, which is airline giant Lufthansa’s main base, seemed to be the travel hub where people had experienced the most problems. 

The airline has struggled with staff shortages after cutting back its workforce during the pandemic travel restrictions. Around 6,000 flights have been cancelled from Frankfurt this summer. Lufthansa ground crew staff also recently held a strike over pay and conditions. 

Adding to the problem is that many people are off sick in Germany at the moment due to a high number of Covid infections.  

READ ALSO: Why is flying in Germany so expensive and chaotic right now?

Alison Townsend, 49, said: “No problems at Munich but major problems outwards at Frankfurt. Only a 30 minute delay but then hit the 45 minute non-EU passport queue and ridiculous distance between gates.

“I missed my connection so missed boarding my cruise in Athens and had a five-day catch-up to board it after with high hotel costs and expenses. Staffing levels were ok but lines for border control were too long.”

However, Townsend said both airports were “very good in terms of seating and shops plus food outlets”.

Craig, 68, who flew to and from Frankfurt, said: “It was chaos and clueless. No Lufthansa desks were open. And it was the third flight of my scheduled trip to be cancelled.”

Queues at Frankfurt airport in July.

Queues at Frankfurt airport in July. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Rumpenhorst

Nicolas, 37, flew to Marseille from Frankfurt, and said there were no staff there to tell passengers about their cancelled flight. 

“You feel very lonely in the big airport,” he said. “No one knew the right answer. I travel a lot around the world and I never felt that before.”

Another reader called Anna, 33, said she was put off from flying with Lufthansa after having her travel plans wrecked during recent strike action. Her outbound flight was delayed by 2.5 hours “and I missed the connecting flight”.

“Due to the strike I was left all alone in Munich with a toddler,” she said.

Tom Boon said he experienced lots of problems when flying with Lufthansa from or to Frankfurt. He said his return Lufthansa flight from London was “almost an hour late due to the aircraft not leaving Frankfurt on time to come to collect us in London City”.

Long queues at immigration

Lots of respondents mentioned the issue of waiting in line when arriving at Frankfurt airport. 

Balakrishnan, 41, who flew to Frankfurt from Abu Dhabi in July, said there were problems getting through passport control: “We waited nearly two hours in a long queue to clear immigration.

“Though the queue was too much, only two counters with four immigration officers were opened for non-EU passport holders.”

Paul, 52, flew to Frankfurt Airport at the end of July. He said: “Horrible queues for passport control, two people were there at 7.30am and there were queues of at least 200 people, stretching out of sight down the corridor.”

Source: Statista

Will the problems continue?

At the weekend, Lufthansa board member Christina Foerster told newspapers in the Funke Media group that flight operations were now “stabilised”.

“The low point has passed,” she said. However, Foerster said there were still major issues with staff having to take sick leave. 

Last week it also emerged that hundreds of new temporary employees from abroad, likely to be stationed at Munich, Frankfurt and Nuremberg airports, are set to join teams on the ground later this month. 

READ ALSO: German airports to recruit hundreds of emergency staff ‘in August’

And some readers said it’s not all that bad – even with the current staff shortages. 

Rebecca, 70, flew to Frankfurt airport on July 28th. 

Manual widget for ML (class=”ml-manual-widget-container”)

She said: “Flight arrived early. There was no line at passport control. Baggage arrived on the belt within 30 minutes. Shuttle to Terminal 1 was punctual.”

Steven, 35, said: “Munich had no issues at all, the airport was practically empty around 3pm. No baggage delays, customs did take a few minutes longer than usual. No other problems at all.”

Meanwhile, one reader said his worst experience was actually flying from another German airport – Cologne/Bonn. 

Angad, 28, said: “Security lines that were kilometres long and more than a two hour delayed flight. Fast track security that we paid for did not exist. Horrible, horrible experience.”

Tips and advice

We also asked readers for their suggestions on travelling at the moment. Here’s a summary of what they said:

  • Put a tracking device like an AirTag in checked baggage or only bring hand luggage 
  • Arrive earlier than usual for your flight, and be mindful of leaving time for connecting flights 
  • Wear trainers or comfortable shoes for getting through big airports quickly 
  • Lower your expectations 

Nick, 56, said: “Remain calm, other airports in the world are also going through the same issues.”

Another reader, Fiona, 54, said: “Don’t travel unless you really need to.”

Thank you to everyone who took the time to fill out our survey. Although we can’t include all the responses, we do read all of them and really appreciate you taking the time to share your views with us.

SHOW COMMENTS