TRAVEL: Germany adds Switzerland and Poland to Covid ‘high-risk’ list

Germany has added five countries to its Covid high risk travel list including neighbouring Switzerland and Poland.

People visit the Wienachtsdorf Christmas market at Zurich's Sechseläutenplatz.
People visit the Wienachtsdorf Christmas market at Zurich's Sechseläutenplatz. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/KEYSTONE | Christian Beutler

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) announced on Friday that Poland, Switzerland, Jordan, Liechtenstein and Mauritius were being classified as high risk areas due to the worsening Covid situation. 

Unvaccinated travellers arriving in Germany from these countries will have to self-isolate for up to 10 days.

As of Sunday, December 5th, people who have stayed in those countries in the previous 10 days before arrival in Germany will face the stricter entry rules.

German authorities require that anyone who has spent time in a designated risk area (high-risk area or area of variants of concern), has to complete the Digital Registration on Entry.

The digital registration allows travellers to upload proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative Covid test before departing for Germany. 

But people who can’t submit proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid have to go straight to their destination in Germany and self-isolate there for 10 days. 

This quarantine period can be shortened with a negative test taken at the earliest five days into the isolation. Travellers will usually receive guidance from their local health authority when they arrive in Germany. 

For children under the age of 12, the self-isolation period automatically ends five days after entry – they do not need to take a test. 

Why has the risk been upgraded?

Switzerland has been seeing its highest number of Covid cases ever, and is running out of ICU beds. Poland is also seeing an uptick in cases. And only about 53.9 percent of the population is fully vaccinated. 

Many people in Germany commute into neighbouring countries, and vice versa. 

Germany is also a popular shopping destination for people living in border areas. For instance German supermarkets and retail outlets offer much cheaper prices than those available in Switzerland.

There are exemptions to travel rules for people who are spending less than 24 hours in Germany, or are cross-border commuters. 

Germany has been tightening its travel restrictions in recent weeks due to the surge in Covid infections in many countries, and the emergency of the Omicron variant. 

South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe were classified as ‘variant concern’ regions on November 28th. 

READ ALSO: Germany bans travel from South Africa over new Covid variant

Only German nationals and people with residence rights are allowed to enter Germany from these countries. They must also quarantine for 14 days upon arrival back in Germany – regardless of their vaccination status. 

They also have to show a negative Covid test before being allowed to board a flight to Germany.

Member comments

  1. Does anyone knows if I will need quarantine if I travel to Germany with connection in Poland (I will be there 2 hours )?

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Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

The UK is set to scrap all Covid-19 travel restrictions in what the government described as a "landmark moment".

Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

Testing is no longer required for vaccinated travellers, but the UK government has announced that it will scrap all Covid-19 travel rules on Friday, March 18th.

“As one of the first major economies to remove all its remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions, this is a landmark moment for passengers and the travel and aviation sector,” said the Government in a press release. 

From 4am on March 18th:

  • Passengers going to the UK will no longer be required to fill out a Passenger Locator Form before travel;
  • Passengers who are not vaccinated will not be required to take a pre-departure Covid test, or a Day 2 test following arrival. Fully vaccinated travellers are already exempt from having to do this;
  • Hotel quarantine for travellers coming from ‘red list’ countries, of which there are currently none, will also be scrapped by the end of the month. 

“We will continue monitoring and tracking potential new variants, and keep a reserve of measures which can be rapidly deployed if needed to keep us safe,” said UK Health Minister Sajid Javid. 

The UK has lifted all Covid-related rules including mask rules and mandatory self-isolation if you test positive for Covid.

Some European countries still have Covid restrictions in place for unvaccinated people coming from the UK. 

Until March 18th

Until the new rules come into effect, all travellers are required to fill out a passenger locator form. 

Unvaccinated travellers are also required to take pre-departure test and a test on or before Day 2 following their arrival. 

The UK border officers will recognise proof of vaccination provided with an EU Covid Certificate.

For the UK “fully vaccinated” means 14 days after your final dose of a EMA/FDA or Swiss approved vaccine (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson). 

After a period of confusion, the UK government says that it will accept mixed doses administered in the EU (eg one dose of AstraZeneca and one of Pfizer).

However people who have only had a single dose after previously recovering from Covid – which is standard practice in some European countries – are not accepted as vaccinated by the UK.