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Germany moves United States and Israel to ‘high risk’ list: What does it mean?

As of Sunday, the United States and Israel have been bumped up to the 'high risk' list, meaning that different rules apply for travel.

Germany moves United States and Israel to 'high risk' list: What does it mean?
Pedestrians cross the road on New York's famous Fifth Avenue. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Mathias Wasik

What’s happened?

The US and Israel were previously on Germany’s Covid ‘safe list’ of non-EU countries due to high vaccination coverage and a low number of Covid cases.

That meant that travel to Germany from the US and Israel was open for all purposes, including tourism – and unvaccinated people could also enter Germany. 

But the US – along with Israel, Montenegro, Kenya and Vietnam – have joined the Robert Koch Institute’s high-risk list as of Sunday.

According to the German Missions in the US, the new rules mean travellers who have spent time in the US within 10 days prior to entering the Germany “will have to be fully vaccinated or need to demonstrate an important reason for entering Germany”.

This rule will also to apply to the other non-EU countries added to the high-risk list, including Israel, Vietnam and Kenya.

READ ALSO: Germany’s latest travel rules for vaccinated non-EU residents: What you need to know

German residents and citizens coming from the US are able to re-enter Germany without having a valid reason for travel, regardless of their vaccination status. 

The tightened restrictions could mean, however, that flights to Germany from the US and other affected countries are disrupted or cancelled at short notice. 

What else do I need to know?

As a high-risk country, the United States (and the other countries mentioned) are now subject to a travel warning, which could have an impact on travel insurance for those planning to travel there. 

READ ALSO: Germany poised to issue travel warnings for USA, Turkey and Israel

People who have been vaccinated against – or have recently recovered from – Covid will not have to quarantine on their return to Germany.

However, all travellers entering from the United States will have to register their visit on the Digital Entry Portal and upload proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test. They must also carry their confirmation of registration with them when crossing the border into Germany. 


American Airlines flights land at Boston Airport. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/AP | Steven Senne

People who aren’t vaccinated or recently recovered – and are eligible to enter Germany – will have to quarantine for 10 days on their return to Germany, with the option to end quarantine after five days with a negative test. Children under 12 are released from quarantine automatically after five days.

A few weeks ago, Reuters reported that President Biden was mulling over a new system that would allow European tourists to enter the country as long as they were fully vaccinated. 

The vaccinated-only system would replace the current travel ban on European countries, which has been in place since March 2020. 

READ ALSO: Is the United States finally set to open up to travellers from Germany?

Until a new system is introduced, however, residents of Germany who aren’t a citizen of the United States are barred from crossing the border if they don’t have ‘essential’ reasons for doing so. 

According to the Interior Ministry’s information on travel from non-EU countries, urgent reasons include study in Germany that can’t be carried out abroad; healthcare or diplomatic work, and family reunification. 

Spiralling infection rates

The Health Ministry’s decision on the United States comes as infection rates across the Atlantic continue to spiral. On Monday, the United States reported a 7-day incidence of 275 infections per 100,000 people, equating to an average of 128,991 infections per day.

According to data collected by Reuters, infections are rising in every single state. 

Countries placed on the high-risk list are considered to be areas where the chance of getting infected with Covid is particularly high – especially for unvaccinated travellers. 

Health experts take into account a combination of factors, such as infections rates, vaccination coverage and the impact of Covid on healthcare infrastructure to decide on the designation of each destination.

While the United States’ vaccination campaign was turbocharged in the first few months of Joe Biden’s presidency, the rate of vaccinations has slowed considerably, with the country only administering around 100,000 jabs per day. 

On June 30th, German Health Minister Jens Spahn announced that Germany had surpassed the United States for the first time in the percentage of the population who had been given their first vaccine dose.

READ ALSO: Germany overtakes US for first Covid jabs

Turkey also to be made ‘high risk’

As well as the countries mentioned above, two oversees French territories – Guiana and Polynesia – were added to the high-risk list, just a week after popular regions in southern France were also upgraded. 

With the country now reporting a 7-day incidence of 190 infections per 100,000 people, Turkey will also be bumped up to the high-risk category from Tuesday evening, making it harder for non-German residents of the country to visit Germany.

Two popular tourist regions of Portugal – the coastal region of Algarve and the country’s capital, Lisbon – were scrubbed from the list on Sunday, joining the Netherlands, which was removed from the high-risk list a week earlier. 

Shortly after rejigging its risk classifications to remove the ‘basic risk’ category at the start of August, at least 25 countries has been reclassed as high-risk.

From Tuesday, almost 70 countries will be on the Robert Koch Institute’s high-risk list. 

Member comments

  1. Here’s hoping vaccinated people, and those that aren’t vaccinated but at least have the decency to wear masks, will still be able to travel in the long run, and not end up banned alongside anti-vaxxers, just because they still think this a joke or some nonsense. Shouldn’t let a few bad apples spoil the rest of the bunch.

  2. I’m glad I made it back to the US at the end of July to see my family for a few days. I’m fully vaccinated but who knows how long that will keep you safe from the rules changing. What a mess.

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€9 for 90: Everything you need to know about Germany’s cheap travel deal

Germany's €9 monthly transport ticket is coming. Here's everything you should know about the deal that will allow you to to travel the country for next to nothing this summer.

€9 for 90: Everything you need to know about Germany's cheap travel deal

What’s all this about cheap transport?

Germany is about to launch a mega cheap transport ticket – and a lot of people are getting very excited about it.

The “€9 for 90” ticket is a monthly travel card that people can buy for just €9 per month over a three-month period. It’s a fraction of the price of a normal monthly travel card and – even more incredibly – can be used anywhere in the country on local and regional transport. 

The deal was initially announced back in April as part of an energy relief package put together by the government. And despite some anger from state leaders over funding for the scheme, the ticket cleared its final hurdle in the Bundesrat on Friday.

READ ALSO: German states threaten to block the €9 ticket in the Bundesrat

So far, the €9 ticket has received a lot of publicity and attention. That’s probably because it’s one of the more fun measures to combat the energy crisis – one that doesn’t involve complicated claims and write-offs in your tax return.

Instead, the government is hoping that the new ticket will cut monthly transport costs for households and encourage people to use more eco-friendly transport options. With fuel prices spiralling, it’s a great time to leave the car at home and travel around for next to nothing, while doing your bit for the environment. 

Sounds great. Can everyone buy it?

Yes! It doesn’t matter whether you’re a tourist on a weekend trip from Austria, a part-time Germany resident or Chancellor Olaf Scholz himself: everyone will be able to purchase the €9 ticket. (We imagine Olaf may already have his own transport, though.) 

It will, however, have your name on it, so it can’t be pooled between friends (as tempting as an even cheaper travel deal would be). 

READ ALSO: What tourists in Germany need to know about the €9 public transport ticket

Busy train in Stuttgart

People board a busy train in Stuttgart. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marijan Murat

When will it be available?

It’s currently available in a handful of cities, including Hamburg, Stuttgart and Freiburg – but everyone else will be able to purchase it from May 23rd onwards. 

The deal itself will be a summer travel offer. That means the first monthly ticket will be valid from June 1st and the last monthly ticket will expire on August 31st. Each of the tickets will be valid for the full calendar month so you won’t be able to mix and match with existing tickets.

For example, if you’ve already bought a ticket that’s expiring in mid-June, you wouldn’t then be able to buy a €9 ticket running from the middle of June to the middle of August.

Instead, you would require two €9 tickets  for June and July – though you can get a refund for the part of the prior ticket you didn’t end up using.

Where can I get hold of it?

The ticket will be available via Deutsche Bahn’s DB Navigator app, on the DB website, at in-station terminals and at ticket desks and offices.

Regional transport operators are likely to have their own ticket purchasing options as well – most likely online, but in some cases also at ticket machines and in-station offices. 

READ ALSO: How to get a hold of the €9 ticket in Berlin

A regional train near Hornberg, in the Black Forest.

A regional train near Hornberg, in the Black Forest. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Philipp von Ditfurth

What types of public transport can I use it on?

The ticket is valid throughout Germany, but only on regional and local transport.

That means you can use it on all local trains like the U-Bahn and S-Bahn, as well as on trams and buses. You can also travel on the Regionalverkehr (regional trains) across Germany. 

You can’t use the ticket for private services like Flixbus and Flixtrain or on other long-distance rail services like IC, EC and ICE trains. If you’re travelling around your state and aren’t sure if the ticket will be valid, check if the train you’re taking has an ‘RE’ in the name. That’s the shorthand for regional trains.

It probably goes without saying, but taxi services won’t be included in the price. And, yes, you will still need to pay for those e-scooters as well. 

Can I use it to travel first class?

If you’re hoping for a month of budget transport but also want to be treated like royalty whilst on board, we may have to disappoint you. The €9 ticket can only be used in second-class carriages.

This is largely because there’s likely to be huge demand for the budget offer – so there could be scuffles for first-class seats with that extra bit of legroom. 

READ ALSO: How to explore Germany by train with the €9 ticket

I’ve already got an Abo. What can I do?

This has been a big concern for the folk who have already opted to pay full price for their public transport. (What fools they were…) 

Luckily, this group of keen transport users won’t miss out either. According to the DB website, people who’ve already shelled out on a monthly or annual ticket will be contacted by their local transport provider and informed about how they can get a refund.

If you’ve got a standing order set up, the transport operator will likely just debit the €9 from your account instead of the usual amount. Otherwise, you may get sent a refund via direct debit. 

Your subscription ticket will be valid for local public transport throughout Germany during the three month offer period – not just in your area.

Will students also benefit from the ticket?

Absolutely – though this is one area where things may be a little less well-organised. If you’re a student with a semester ticket, you will be entitled to a refund of the extra amount you paid, which will likely be handled by your university. 

One thing that seems a little unclear is whether the semester ticket will suddenly be valid outside of your local region, just like the €9 ticket is. We assume it will, but we’ll try to clarify this with DB and other service providers in the coming weeks. 

Can I take my bike on board?

Unfortunately, bikes aren’t included in the offer – and this seems like a deliberate choice. 

DB is recommending that people leave their bikes at home during the three months that the €9 ticket is on offer. This is because trains are likely to be extremely busy and they can’t guarantee that they’ll have room for everyone, let alone a hundred or so bikes. Instead, you can usually hire a bike at your destination.

However, if you’ve already got a subscription that allows you to take your bike with you (i.e. a student semester ticket or another type of Abo), you’ll still be able to do so. 

What about my dog? 

You will unfortunately not be able to purchase a €9 ticket in the name of Rover T. Dog (well, you could try, but it probably won’t work). However, the usual rules will apply to travelling with a furry friend. 

In some places, you may need to buy an extra dog ticket for Rover, while in others, he’ll be able to accompany you free-of-charge. 

READ ALSO: Who benefits from Germany’s €9 public transport ticket offer?

A woman carries her dog through a Berlin train station

A woman carries her onesie-clad dog in a Berlin train station. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Annette Riedl

Do children need to pay for a ticket? 

Children under six can travel for free on public transport, while children over the age of six will need their own €9 ticket. 

What about seat reservations? 

Transport operators are trying to keep things as flexible as possible to cope with demand over summer, so you unfortunately won’t be able to use the ticket to reserve a seat in advance.

Won’t public transport be rammed? 

At the moment, nobody really knows. According to the Association of German Transport Companies (VDV), there could be as many as 30 million public transport users per month over summer – but this is only a rough estimate.

READ ALSO: How many people will use the €9 ticket?

One way around this is to try and travel on weekdays and off-peak services where possible and (as mentioned) to hire bikes rather than bringing them in the train.

It could also be helpful to familiarise yourself with different transport connections and routes in your area. 

The other thing that could help ease the crush on public transport is the fact that the government is also planning to cut taxes on fuel in tandem with the €9 ticket. That means that, for three months over summer, drivers will be able to get cheaper petrol and diesel – so some may indeed decide to take the car after all.

The ticket ends at the end of August. What happens next? 

Once again, it’s hard to say. Critics of the €9 ticket say that the scheme will leave gaping holes in transport budgets and could ultimately lead to ticket prices going up in autumn.

On the other hand, proponents of the offer believe that it could have the effect of luring people back to public transport after the Covid crisis. That would mean that more people would be buying subscriptions after summer and using local buses and trains, which can only be a good thing for transport budgets in the long-run. 

READ ALSO: ‘Fantastic’: Your verdict on Germany’s €9 transport ticket

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