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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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TRAVEL NEWS

German states threaten to block €9 ticket in Bundesrat

Germany's cut-price transport ticket is supposed to go on sale next Monday - but a battle over financing is threatening to torpedo the government's plans.

German states threaten to block €9 ticket in Bundesrat

An feud between the federal and state governments intensified on Monday as state leaders threatened to block the government’s most recent energy package when it is put to a vote in the Bundesrat on Friday. 

The battle relates to the government’s plans for a budget transport ticket that would allow people to travel on local and regional transport around Germany for just €9 per month.

Though the 16 states have agreed to support the ticket, transport ministers are arguing that the low-cost option will blow a hole in their budgets and lead to potential price hikes once autumn rolls around.

They claim that current funding promised by the Federal Transport Ministry doesn’t go far enough.

READ ALSO: 

“If the federal government believes it can be applauded on the backs of the states for a three-month consolation prize and that others should foot the bill, then it has made a huge mistake,” Bavaria’s Transport Minister Christian Bernreiter (CSU) told Bild on Monday.

The government has pledged €2.5 billion to the states to pay for the measure, as well as financial support for income lost during the Covid crisis. 

Transport Minister Volker Wissing. of the Free Democrats (FDP), said states would also receive the revenue of the €9 ticket from customers who take advantage of the offer. 

“For this ‘9 for 90 ticket’, the €2.5 billion is a complete assumption of the costs by the federal government,” said Wissing on Thursday. “In addition, the states are also allowed to keep the €9 from the ticket price, so they are very well funded here.”

Transport Minister Volker Wissing

Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) speaks ahead of a G7 summit in Düsseldorf.

However, federal states want a further €1.5 billion in order to increase staff, deal with extra fuel costs and to plan for the expansion of local transport in Germany.

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s Minister for Economic Affairs, Reinhard Meyer (SPD), told Bild that there would be “no approval (on Friday) as long as the federal government does not provide additional funds.”

Baden-Württemberg’s Transport Minister Winfried Hermann (Greens) also warned that “the entire package of fuel rebate and €9 euro ticket could fail in the Bundesrat” if the government doesn’t agree to the state’s demands on funding.

The Bundesrat is Germany’s upper house of parliament, which is comprised of MPs serving in the state governments. Unlike in the Bundestag, where the traffic-light coalition of the Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and Free Democrats (FDP) has a majority, the CDU is the largest party in the Bundesrat. 

What is the €9 ticket?

The €9 monthly ticket was announced early this year as part of a package of energy relief measures for struggling households.

With the price of fuel rising dramatically amid supply bottlenecks and the war in Ukraine, the traffic-light coalition is hoping to encourage people to switch to public transport over summer instead. 

The ticket will run for three months from the start of June to the end of August, and will allow people to travel nationwide on local and regional transport. Long-distance trains like IC, EC and ICE trains will not be covered by the ticket. 

It should be available to purchase from May 23rd, primarily via ticket offices and the DB app and website. 

Some regional operators, including Berlin-Brandenburg’s VBB, have also pledged to offer the ticket at ticket machines.

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

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