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EXPLAINED: Germany’s latest Covid travel rules for children

Under changes to Germany's Covid entry regulations penned before Christmas, children over the age of six must now carry proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test in order to enter the country from a 'high risk' area. Here's what you need to know.

Travellers in Berlin-Brandenburg Airport
Travellers pass through Berlin-Brandenburg airport with their luggage. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Jens Kalaene

What’s going on?

Germany has been in the process of tightening up some of its travel rules. 

Previously, all children under the age of 12 were exempt from the requirement to give proof of immunity or a negative test when entering the country. 

But a recent change to the rules means that 6-12 year olds now have to provide proof of vaccination and recovery of a negative test when arriving in Germany from a country on the Robert Koch Institute’s high-risk list

Under Germany’s entry rules, vaccinated and recovered people are exempt from having to quarantine after arriving from a high risk area as soon as they upload proof of their immunity on the Digital Entry Form. 

Unvaccinated people, meanwhile, must present a negative test and also quarantine for up to 10 days, with the option to end the quarantine after five days with a further test.

If arriving from a high risk area, children under the age of six – who are still exempt from the testing requirement – must quarantine for a standard five days and do not need a test to end the quarantine.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What are the rules for entering Germany this Christmas and New Year?

The change follows the introduction of vaccinations for children aged 5-12 with a reduced dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

The new lower dosed vaccine, which is currently being rolled out in Germany after receiving EU approval, means that young children can be inoculated against Covid for the first time in the pandemic.

Are there any other changes I should know about?

The government has also introduced tougher testing requirements just before Christmas for people arriving from a virus variant area.

Anyone who’s stayed in a virus variant region in the last 10 days must now present a negative PCR test taken within the last 48 hours before travelling back to Germany.

How do I know if I’m ‘vaccinated’ or ‘recovered’?

Following updated guidance from the Paul Ehrlich Institute, the definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ was changed on January 15th to exclude people who have had one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

This group of people now need a second jab in order to count as fully vaccinated. 

That means that, as a rule, if you’ve had at least two doses of any EU-approved Covid vaccine more than two weeks ago, you are fully vaccinated in the eyes of the German government.

READ ALSO: What people who’ve had the J&J jab need to know for travel to Germany

Meanwhile, people who fall into the recovered category are also facing rule changes.

While previously people could present evidence of an infection up to six months ago, the Covid infection now has to have occurred no more than three months ago.

To prove your recovery, you therefore need a positive PCR test taken more than 28 days and less than 90 days ago. 

How many countries are on the high risk and virus variant list?

On Friday, the Robert Koch Institute placed 19 more countries on its ‘high risk’ list, including Japan, India, Brazil and Romania. 

There are now 155 high-risk areas in total. 

With Omicron taking over as the dominant variant in Germany, there are currently no virus variant areas on the list. 

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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.