Germany to require Covid tests for all unvaccinated travellers arriving by ‘plane, car or train’

Anyone entering Germany from abroad will have to take a Covid-19 test unless they are fully vaccinated or have recovered from the disease, according to new rules signed off by Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet Friday.

Germany to require Covid tests for all unvaccinated travellers arriving by 'plane, car or train'
Drivers will be subject to random test checks at the German border from August onwards. Photo: picture alliance / Soeren Stache/dpa | Soeren Stache

“From August 1st, all people entering Germany will be obliged to have proof of a negative test, vaccination or recovery,” Merkel’s spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said in a statement.

“This rule is there to keep the number of new infections brought into Germany as low as possible,” said Demmer, adding that it would apply to all travellers over the age of 12.

“All unvaccinated people entering Germany will have to be tested in future – regardless of whether they come by plane, car or train,” Spahn said in a statement.

 According to a draft seen by AFP, there will be exceptions for cross-border commuters and those passing through in transit.

Both PCR tests taken within 72 hours of entry and rapid antigen tests taken within a maximum of 48 hours will be accepted, the draft said.

They will apply to travellers “regardless of where they have come from and the means of transport they use,” Finance Minister Olaf Scholz told the Funke media group.

Under current German rules, any unvaccinated person entering the country by plane must get tested, but those entering by road or rail must not unless they are coming from an area deemed high risk.

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

Those entering from so-called virus variant countries, such as Brazil and South Africa, must get tested even if they are vaccinated – a rule set to remain unchanged according to the draft.

Police have said the rules will not be enforced through systematic border controls, but through random checks.

Regular checks ‘can hardly be managed’

Regional leaders in Germany’s border regions, especially Bavaria and Rhineland-Palatinate, had been calling for tighter travel measures in recent days.

But some have questioned how the new rules on testing will function logistically, given the vast amount of entry points to Germany via road and rail. 

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

In an interview with the Funke Media Group, police union chairman Andreas Roßkopf warned that the border police would be unable to cope with the new rules.

“We have over 3,800 kilometers of land border,” he said. “If we are supposed to check them regularly on a random basis, that can hardly be managed.”

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) told ARD that “most people think tests are a good thing”. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralild | Soeren Stache

Speaking on ARD Tagesthemen on Friday, Finance Minister and chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz (SPD) defended the move, saying the majority of Germans would comply with the rules regardless if they were likely to be checked or not.

“Lots of people think it’s a good thing that they can get tested to ensure they don’t infect other people,” he said.

“It’s about protecting the health of the people of this nation.”

More than 2,500 infections within a day

Germany has seen low infection numbers over the summer compared to many of its European neighbours, but cases have been creeping up over the past few weeks, largely fuelled by the Delta variant.

The country recorded 2,454 new cases in the past 24 hours on Friday, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), and an incidence rate of 17 new cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days — up from a low of 4.6 in early July.

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

With the country’s vaccination campaign running out of steam, the debate has been heating up around possible restrictions for the unvaccinated, though compulsory vaccination for parts of the population has so far been ruled out.

On Thursday, the RKI revealed that thousands of infections had arrived in Germany from abroad during the summer holidays.

More than 3,600 travellers came back to the country with Covid between June 28th and July 25th, the health agency revealed, with the vast majority coming from Turkey, Spain, Croatia, Greece and the Netherlands.

Member comments

  1. Why were the people allowed to leave Germany without Vaccination? I am worried that if another lock down is brought in to protect the unvaccinated while it is available in plenty.

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Budget airline passengers in Europe face travel headaches as more strikes called

Passengers with Europe's low-cost airlines are facing more strikes this summer as staff announced new walkouts on Tuesday.

Budget airline passengers in Europe face travel headaches as more strikes called

Trade unions representing Ryanair cabin crew in Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal and Spain have called for strikes this coming weekend, while easyJet’s operations in Spain face a nine-day strike next month.

Damien Mourgues, a representative of the SNPNC trade union at Ryanair in France, said the airline doesn’t respect rest time laws and is calling for a raise for cabin crew still paid at the minimum wage.

Cabin crew will go on strike on Saturday and Sunday.

READ MORE: What’s the latest on the Ryanair strike in Spain?

A strike on the weekend of June 12th and 13th already prompted the cancellation of about 40 Ryanair flights in France, or about a quarter of the total.

Ryanair’s low-cost rival easyJet also faces nine days of strikes on different days in July at the Barcelona, Malaga and Palma de Mallorca airports.

READ MORE: EasyJet adds to Spain’s summer travel woes with 9-day strike

The union said Tuesday that Spanish easyJet cabin crew, with a base pay of 950 euros per month, have the lowest wages of the airline’s European bases.

READ ALSO: Strikes and queues: How airline passengers in Europe face summer travel chaos

The strikes come as air travel has rebounded since Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted.

But many airlines, which laid off staff during the pandemic, are having trouble rehiring enough workers and have been forced to cancel flights, including easyJet, which has been particularly hard hit by employee shortages.

On Monday, the European Transport Workers’ Federation called “on passengers not to blame the workers for the disasters in the airports, the cancelled flights, the long queues and longer time for check-ins, and lost luggage or delays caused by decades of corporate greed and a removal of decent jobs in the sector.”

The Federation said it expects “the chaos the aviation sector is currently facing will only grow over the summer as workers are pushed to the brink.”

Aviation sector ‘chaos’

In Spain, trade unions have urged Ryanair cabin crews to strike from June 24th to July 2nd to secure their “fundamental labour rights” and “decent workconditions for all staff”.

Ryanair staff in Portugal plan to go on strike from Friday to Sunday to protest work conditions, as are employees in Belgium.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has been dismissive of the strikes.

“We operate two and half thousand flights every day,” he said earlier this month in Belgium.

“Most of those flights will continue to operate even if there is a strike in Spain by some Mickey Mouse union or if the Belgian cabin crew unions want to go on strike over here,” he added in a media conference.

In Italy, a 24-hour strike is set to hit Ryanair operations on Saturday with pilots and cabin crew calling for the airline to respect the minimum wages set for the sector under a national agreement. 

Aircraft technician strike grounds flights from Norway 

More than 50 departures out of Norway’s airports have been cancelled so far due to an aircraft technician strike.

Widerøe has cancelled 38 flights so far, while Norwegian Air Shuttle cancelled five departures on Tuesday morning and announced a further 17 trips wouldn’t go ahead on Wednesday.

The Norwegian Air Traffic Technician Organisation (NFO) currently has 106 workers out on strike. The organisation could take out 39 more staff on Friday if an agreement on pay isn’t reached.

Travellers are advised to contact the airline they are meant to be flying with directly if their flight is delayed or cancelled. You can check scheduled departures out of Norwegian airports here

Widerøe has urged travellers not to contact them unless their flight has been cancelled, disrupted, or they are unhappy with the alternative travel arrangements that have been offered to them.

“If you have not heard anything from us, then you can be sure that your trip is still planned and carried out and behave in the usual way when you go out and travel,” a press officer for the airline told public broadcaster NRK.

Norwegian said it was working to rebook customers whose flights had been cancelled. 

“Almost everyone has been offered to rebook to an alternative route, and then there is one flight where we are still working to solve it,” Esben Tuman, communications director for the airline, told newswire NTB.

READ MORE: Flights in Norway cancelled due to technician strike