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COVID-19

German politician calls for UK to be placed on ‘virus variant’ list

Bavarian Health Minister Klaus Holetschek (CSU) has urged authorities to place the United Kingdom on Germany's 'virus variant' list as cases of the Omicron variant continue to spike.

UK parliament westminster
The UK parliament buildings in Westminster, London. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/PA Wire | Tim Ireland

Appearing on the RTL morning programme Frühstart, Holetschek called for a “quick” decision on the situation in the UK and the rapid imposition of travel restrictions. 

“I would like the federal government to take a close look at when Great Britain becomes a virus-variant area and that a PCR test must be presented as mandatory when entering the country by plane,” Holetschek said in an appearance on the RTL programme Frühstart.

READ ALSO: Germany must brace for ‘unstoppable’ Omicron wave, warn scientists

Holetschek pointed out that the numbers in Great Britain were increasing “vehemently” and that one should “not wait too long” with a corresponding decision.

It would make sense if, in future, people entering Germany from the UK had to present a PCR test that was no more than 24 hours old, he argued. 

On Thursday, France became the first European country to shut the doors on travel from the UK due to the wave of Omicron infections occurring in the country.

As of midnight on Saturday, entry from and exit to Great Britain will only be possible for “compelling reasons”, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced on Thursday. Tourist or professional reasons are not among them.

Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI) is expected to announce the latest updates to its ‘risk list’ on Friday afternoon, which could see the United Kingdom upgraded from a ‘high risk’ to a ‘virus variant’ area. 

This would mean that only residents and citizens were allowed to enter the country, and those who do arrive will have to quarantine for at least 14 days – with no option of shorting the period of self-isolation. 

11,000 confirmed cases 

Since Omicron was first discovered on UK soil, more than 11,000 cases of the highly transmissible variant have been confirmed across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

An addition 37,000 or so cases were indicated by PCR test results. 

However, this is believed to be a large underestimation of the real case numbers, which include undetected or symptomless cases.

According to the UK’s Health Minister Sajid Javid, mathematical models undertaken by the industry suggest that Omicron may be infecting around 200,000 people a day, with the vast majority of cases going undetected. 

On Wednesday, the newly discovered variant overtook Delta as the dominant Covid variant in London. Cases are currently doubling in the country in less than two days. 

Meanwhile, Germany has recorded 112 confirmed cases of Omicron by genome sequencing, with more than 200 further cases suspected. 

READ ALSO: Hold Christmas parties in Germany online to stave off Omicron, says RKI

Member comments

  1. Having just subscribed last weekend, I find that yor website for Germany was last updated on 17 Dec (today is 22/12). Thus completely useless for anyone trying to keep up to date with the latest German COVID travel etc. What is the point of your website?

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TRAVEL NEWS

Traffic warnings issued in Germany ahead of public holiday

People travelling in Germany this week have been warned to expect heavy traffic and busy airports.

Traffic warnings issued in Germany ahead of public holiday

Germany has a nationwide public holiday on May 26th to mark the Christian holiday Ascension Day (Christi Himmelfahrt), which is also known as Father’s Day or Men’s Day.

Many people also book the Friday off work – known as a Brückentag (bridge day) – to make their annual leave go further. 

It comes after a disappointing start to the year when some public holidays fell on the weekend, meaning that most people didn’t get the day off in Germany. 

READ ALSO: German politicians call for ‘lost’ public holidays to be replaced

Meanwhile, with Covid restrictions being eased in most countries around the world, people in Germany are now desperate to make the most of their time off. 

It means that roads and airports are likely to be much busier – from Wednesday afternoon onwards. 

Germany’s biggest car club, the ADAC, warned that traffic jams were expected. 

Where are the worst traffic jams expected?

The ADAC expects the first peak of congestion on Wednesday from around 1pm to 7pm. It will also be very busy on Saturday and Sunday, while experts believe Friday will be fairly quiet on the roads. 

Roadworks might also pose a problem – the ADAC says more than 1,000 construction work sites are in place across Germany right now. 

The ADAC said the biggest traffic jams were expected around Hamburg, Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Munich, as well as on the following motorways:

A1 Cologne – Bremen – Hamburg – Lübeck

A2 Berlin – Hanover – Dortmund

A3 Cologne – Frankfurt – Würzburg – Nuremberg

A4 Kirchheimer Dreieck – Erfurt – Chemnitz – Dresden

A5 Hattenbacher Dreieck – Darmstadt – Karlsruhe

A6 Heilbronn – Nuremberg

A7 Hamburg – Hanover and A7 Würzburg – Füssen/Reutte

A7 Hamburg – Flensburg

A8 Stuttgart – Munich – Salzburg

A9 Munich – Nuremberg

A10 Berlin Ring

A61 Mönchengladbach – Koblenz – Ludwigshafen

A81 Stuttgart – Singen

A93 Inntaldreieck – Kufstein

A95/B2 Munich – Garmisch-Partenkirchen

A99 Munich Autobahnring

Ascension Day is also a public holiday in Austria and Switzerland. 

Road experts say there could similarly be some busy roads in these countries which could affect Germans crossing the borders. 

“This will be particularly noticeable on the access roads to the leisure regions in the lower road network of the Alpine countries – for example, in Austria the Carinthian lakes, the Salzkammergut, Lake Neusiedl and the recreational areas of the Swiss cantons of Ticino and Valais,” said the ADAC.

“Slightly longer driving times should also be planned for the Tauern, Fernpass, Brenner, Rhine Valley and Gotthard routes.”

READ ALSO: Why Germans are being warned not to cycle drunk on Father’s Day

What about airports?

German airports are also expecting a rush of passengers this week. 

From Wednesday until Sunday this week, around 77,000 passengers per day are expected at Berlin’s BER airport. On regular weekdays, between 55,000 and 65,000 passengers is the norm, while around 70,000 travellers pass through BER on the peak days of Friday and Sunday.

Passengers are urged to be at the airport at least two hours before check-in, and to keep an eye for any updates or changes to their trip from their airline. 

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