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

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 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.

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. 

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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. 


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