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TRAVEL NEWS

How travel rules from Germany to England have become stricter

The UK has shaken up its Covid travel rules - but for Germany, which was a green list country, there are actually stricter regulations - plus there's a major issue for those not seen as fully vaccinated by the UK. Here's a look at what's changed.

How travel rules from Germany to England have become stricter
Frankfurt airport. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sebastian Gollnow

We updated this story after the UK government provided clarification 

What’s the latest?

The UK government announced its relaxed Covid travel rules on Friday, meaning that vaccinated travellers from Europe to England would no longer need to take pre-departure tests, and can use cheaper lateral flow (antigen) tests for their ‘Day 2’ test after arriving.

However, there’s a huge change that people in Germany have to be aware of after the UK government effectively shelved its traffic light system. The UK is replacing it with a single red list, with simplified travel measures for arrivals who have not visited a country on the red list in the past 10 days.

Most of the changes come into force from 4am on October 4th. These rules at present affect only arrivals in England, the devolved nations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have so far not indicated a change to their definitions.

Note that fully vaccinated passengers will be able to replace day 2 PCR tests with cheaper lateral flow tests from the end of October.

What does it mean for unvaccinated people?

Previously and up until October 4th, unvaccinated people coming from Germany to the UK could skip quarantine, because Germany was on the green list. 

But soon unvaccinated travellers coming from Germany (and other European countries) to the UK will need to quarantine for 10 days and:

What does this mean for vaccinated people?

People who’ve been vaccinated in the EU and travelling from Germany will need to:

As mentioned, they will no longer need to take a pre-departure test, and can use lateral flow tests for day 2 later in October. 

What about those who’ve received one Covid jab and a booster shot?

While the announcement spells good news for many travellers who have been vaccinated in Europe, certain people still face quarantine, despite being fully jabbed.

The UK’s Department of Health and Social care confirmed earlier this week to The Local that there was no change in policy or relaxation of those who had received only jab after recovering from the disease.

READ ALSO: Are you classed as fully vaccinated in the UK after having Covid and one jab?

The rules say: “You must have had a complete course of an approved vaccine at least 14 days before you arrive in England.”

What about people who’ve had mixed-vaccine doses?

Earlier this week, there was some confusion over whether people who’ve received mixed vaccine doses in Europe (known as Kreuzimpfung in Germany) will be classed as fully vaccinated by the UK.

Up to this point anyone who had one dose of AstraZeneca and then a dose of Pfizer or Moderna in a European country is not considered fully vaccinated by the UK government.

READ ALSO:

However, the UK government has updated its information regarding its new Covid border rules for England (Devolved countries Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland may announce different policies) after complaints that its policy towards those with mixed vaccine doses was confusing.

Here’s a summary of what the UK government’s new rules are for travel to England regarding mixed doses:

  • From 4am Monday 4th October, you will qualify as fully vaccinated if you are vaccinated either under an approved vaccination programme in the UK, Europe or USA.
  • Where 2 doses of a vaccine are required for a full course, you will be able to mix 2 different types of vaccine, for example Oxford/AstraZeneca and Moderna

  • You will be able to have the 2 vaccinations under 2 different approved programmes, for example Australia and Japan, UK and USA, EU and Canada.

  • The government also states: “Until 4th October, mixed vaccines are only permitted if you are vaccinated under the UK, Europe, USA or UK overseas vaccination programme.”

Member comments

  1. Hello
    We are planning a driving visit to Switzerland, sailing from Newcastle to Ijmuiden, Holland.
    We are allowed through travel by Holland to Germany with 2 vaccines.
    Germany allows through travel, however its a long drive after getting off the ship around 11am, we normally stop overnight south of Frankfurt and continue next day.
    We think this means that we should get a PCR for us both to cover at least 72 hrs.
    Switzerland with 2 vaccines is OK.
    The return trip should be OK.
    Paul Lavender

  2. ‘The UK does explicitly accept mixed doses for those travellers vaccinated in the following countries: Australia, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Dominica, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea or Taiwan as well as those vaccinated in the UK.’

    But not travellers from Germany – completely barmy!!!

  3. The mixed doses applies to the whole of Europe as well as Germany and is absolutely ludicrous. How can the UK approve 17 countries worldwide but not Europe? How can it be different? Much research has been done by professionals on this topic and all the reports say that the AZ/Pfizer mix offers the best protection!
    Come on Britain get a grip as you are probably preventing about 60% (if not more) of people living in Europe from entering the UK without a quarantine. English tourism is desperate for visitors to return and spend their cash but this isn’t going to happen with this rule.

  4. There’s even more madness: if you are a tourist in the U.K. and became a COVID contact case, you have to self-isolate for 10 days even if you are fully vaccinated, unless you were vaccinated by NHS in the U.K. (none of the international vaccination certificates are recognised).

    1. I was pinged 2 days before returning to Germany by the NHS Track and Trace App (which you automatically get enrolled in from the Passenger Locator form) to tell me I was LEGALLY obliged to self-isolate. You are only exempt from 10 days quarantine if double vaccinated in the UK. Germany double vaccination with exactly the same Pfizer/BionTech vaccine doesn’t count. Needless to say I took no notice of this blatantly political spite and travelled back as planned (although I did an antigen test – negative – on the morning of travel).

    1. funny how UK government guidance refers to “Europe” as if it’s a separate geographic entity from the UK

  5. Next UK Testing Scam: The Day 2 post-arrival UK test requirement has changed from PCR to Antigen (apparently less expensive). However, the major test providers e.g RANDOX are only offering Day 2 PCR Tests and have no plans to change to the cheaper Antigen/Lateral Flow tests OR they are changing the same price. Trying to find a reasonably priced Antigen Day 2 Test provider for my trip back to the UK for Christmas is an absolute nightmare. If anyone has a recommendation, I would be interested to hear…

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TRAVEL NEWS

Will Germany manage to tackle its airport chaos this summer?

Emergency plans to fill staffing gaps at airports are underway - but Germany's largest airline says disruptions could continue. Here's what you need to know.

Will Germany manage to tackle its airport chaos this summer?

What’s going on?

There have been warnings about impending flight chaos over the summer holidays for several weeks now following nightmarish scenes at airports over the Whitsun weekend. 

On Friday, when schools in the populous state of North-Rhine Westphalia broke up for the summer, those fears appeared to be have been realised. 

As The Local reported on Monday, airports in the region have struggled to cope with the sudden surge in passenger numbers. Holidaymakers were forced to wait for hours just to clear security at Düsseldorf and Cologne airports and there were reports of mix-ups at the baggage reclaim stations.

Hundreds of passengers were also sent home from Düsseldorf airport on Saturday evening without their bags and asked to return the next day to collect them. 

To make matters worse, airlines are also struggling to run their services on schedule and flight cancellations are becoming the new normal. 

READ ALSO: ‘Arrive three hours early’: Your tips for flying in Germany this summer

According to regional newspaper, the Rheinische Post, around 70 flights were cancelled at Düsseldorf at short notice over the weekend. 

The news follows confirmation from Lufthansa that at least 3,200 flights have been taken off the schedule this summer. Germany’s largest airline had initially announced that it would be scrubbing a 1,000 flights in the month of July, but later went on to add that 2,200 further services would be cancelled during the busy summer months.

Lufthansa’s subsidiaries Eurowings and Swiss have also cancelled flights in the run up to the vacation period, while EasyJet has also confirmed that a “small number” of flights will be taken off its schedule. 

How is the government planning to tackle this?

According to reports in Bild am Sonntag, the German government wants to step in and alleviate some of the staffing pressure by allowing German companies to recruit thousands of short-term workers from abroad. 

Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) said he was working alongside Labour Minister Hubertus Heil and Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (both SPD) to “relieve the staff shortages at German airports and present a temporary solution”.

“The Federal Government is planning to allow urgently needed personnel from abroad to enter Germany for temporary work,” Heil confirmed on Sunday.

Ralph Beisel, CEO of the German Airports Association (ADV), told DPA the staff would be recruited from Turkey, the Balkan states and other countries for a period of up to three months. 

Passengers at Düsseldorf airport

Passengers with wheeled suitcases at Düsseldorf airport over the weekend. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Thomas Banneyer

But the opposition CDU/CSU parties have criticised the plans and argued that the problem should be solved with German workers instead.

“The airport chaos could be permanently solved with domestic skilled workers,” CDU transport policy spokesman, Thomas Bareiß (CDU), told the Rheinische Post. 

Estimates from the German Economics Institute suggest that there is currently a shortage of about 7,200 skilled workers at German airports. Airport and airline bosses fired thousands of employees in an effort to cut costs during the Covid pandemic and others sought new work during the crisis.

With highly infectious Omicron subvariants tearing through the country, the industry is also having to reckon with regular staff illness and the self-isolation regulations. This is compounding the severe staffing issues.

READ ALSO: Germany to ‘recruit workers from abroad’ to ease airport chaos

Could the situation improve in summer?

If the government lays the groundwork for an easy recruitment and relocation process, around 2,000 airport workers could enter Germany as early as July. But this may still not be enough to completely make up for the shortfalls.

So far, just one of Germany’s 16 states has commenced its school holidays. The remaining 15 are due to go on holiday in July and August. 

In more disheartening news for passengers, the CEO of Lufthansa has warned that the current staffing issues won’t be resolved until at least winter this year – or possibly 2023. 

In an open letter to customers, CEO Carsten Spohr said the sudden increase in air traffic from nearly zero at the height of the Covid travel restrictions to around 90 percent meant the industry could not deliver its usual “reliability, robustness and punctuality”.

Düsseldorf airport chaos

Long queues at Düsseldorf airport over the weekend. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | David Young

“We can only apologise to you for this and we also want to be completely honest,” Spohr wrote. In the coming weeks, with passenger numbers continuing to rise, whether for holidays or business trips, the situation will hardly improve in the short term.”

The CEO said that the group, which announced it was laying off 30,000 staff during the pandemic, was in the process of rapidly recruiting thousands of new workers. “However, the stabilising effect from this will only be felt in the coming winter,” he added.

In an interview on Welt TV, Transport Minister Wissing expressed dismay at the fact that the industry had not started dealing with its staffing issues sooner.

“Securing skilled staff is not an issue that is new, everyone knows that this is one of the most important tasks,” the FDP politician said. 

In another letter addressed to employees, Spohr admitted that the management had made mistakes over the previous two years.

“Under the pressure of the more than €10 billion in pandemic-related losses, did we overdo it with savings in one place or another? Sure we did,” he said. “Quite frankly, for our management team and for me personally, this was the first pandemic we had to deal with.”

READ ALSO:

What else can be done? 

As well as the efforts of government and private companies, Germany’s United Services Union (Verdi) is also stepping in to support the struggling industry.

On Tuesday, the union called on Lufthansa subsidiary Eurowings to attend a short-notice crisis summit in order to find joint solutions for employees and passengers over summer.

Verdi pointed to the recent layoffs carried out by airlines in the Lufthansa Group, including Eurowings, and said that the situation was placing “enormous physical and psychological strain” on employees.

Police officers at Düsseldorf airport

Police officers keep an eye on passengers at Düsseldorf airport. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | David Young

“High levels of sick leave and employee resignations are the result,” they wrote. “This subsequently results in flight cancellations with angry passengers and chaos at the airports.” 

Marvin Reschinsky, Verdi’s negotiator at Eurowings, said he was confident of finding a solution with the airline that could help ease the situation. 

“We are optimistic that with mutual determination we can succeed in finding solutions to the current situation that are in the interests of both employees and passengers,” Reschinsky said. “This is necessary to safeguard holiday traffic again.”

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