German Health Ministry set to end quarantine for child travellers

After receiving criticism for being the only EU country to impose quarantine on children returning from abroad, Germany's health ministry has confirmed it will ease its Covid rules for kids.

German Health Ministry set to end quarantine for child travellers
Karl Lauterbach (SPD), Federal Minister of Health, answers questions at a press conference in February. Photo: dpa | Wolfgang Kumm

“Children have had to cope with a lot in this pandemic. That’s why we are relaxing entry requirements at a time when the current Omicron wave has passed its zenith,” Health Minister Karl Lauterbach told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung on Monday.

“Travel for families will be easier as a result. But they should still be cautious while on vacation,” he added.

Currently, children under the age of 12 who are not vaccinated and who return from a country classified as ‘high risk’ need to go into quarantine for at least five days.

The entire EU with the exception of Spain and Ireland is classified as ‘high risk’ at the moment due to prevalence of the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

At the beginning of Feburary, the EU recommended exempting young children from quarantine rules.

Germany is the only EU member still to require all unvaccinated children under 12 to go into self-isolation. Opposition politicians had criticized the government for a rule which they said put undue stress on families.

Lauterbach is to propose the rule change to cabinet on Wednesday and it is expected to come into force on March 4th.

Daniel Caspary, a member of the European parliament for the CDU, told Bild newspaper that the change was coming too late.

“Right now, many families with young children are on vacation. It would help these families a lot if the rule change were to be implemented immediately,” Caspary said.

Lauterbach also confirmed that the definition of a high-risk country would soon change to only include places where a Covid variant more deadly than Omicron was dominant.

SEE ALSO: What it’s like travelling to Germany from the USA in the Covid era

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‘Trains of the future’: German rail operator plans huge modernisation

Germany's national railway company, Deutsche Bahn, is launching a modernisation offensive and plans to invest more than €19 billion in new trains over the next few years.

'Trains of the future': German rail operator plans huge modernisation

On Wednesday, Deutsche Bahn announced plans for its largest modernisation programme to date.

The record sum of €19 billion will help create the capacity needed to meet increased demand, as well as more modern vehicles which will help make the network more climate-friendly and reliable. 

“We are now investing in the trains of the future,” CEO Richard Lutz told the Innotrans rail technology trade show in Berlin on Wednesday.

At the trade show, Deutsche Bahn also showed what the regional train of the future may look like and presented a new double-decker wagon. It included special office cabins and family areas, which will go into service in Bavaria from spring 2023.

READ ALSO: REVEALED: The best night trains running through Germany

To enable more people to switch from cars to trains, the company says that around extra 450 highspeed ICE trains will run through Germany in 2030 and, next year, three new ICE trains will hit the tracks every month.

Over the next few years, Deutsche Bahn will be buying trains for long-distance services at a cost of around €10 billion – most of which will be spent on the ICE 4, while around €2.5 billion have been earmarked for 73 ICE 3 Neo trains, the first of which will go into service in December.

The end of Covid restrictions and the introduction of the €9 ticket at the beginning of June has recently given a huge boost to passenger numbers on buses and trains in Germany.

READ ALSO: What we know so far about the successor to Germany’s €9 ticket

According to the Federal Statistics Office, almost 4.8 billion passengers used regular train services in the first half of 2022 alone – over 36 percent more than in the first six months of the previous year.