German Health Ministry drafts sweeping changes to travel rules

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 23 Feb, 2022 Updated Wed 23 Feb 2022 10:05 CEST
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Arriving passengers present their Covid paperwork at Hamburg airport. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christian Charisius

Germany is on the verge of removing over a hundred countries from its high-risk list as the Health Ministry sets forward a number of changes to travel rules.

From March 4th, only regions with dominant virus variants that have "higher disease-causing properties" than Omicron will be put on the Robert Koch Institute's high-risk list, which is subject to stringent travel rules.

The changes have been set out in a new draft law from the German Health Ministry that is due to be discussed by cabinet ministers on Wednesday.

They were agreed by state and federal leaders at a meeting on February 16th, in which the government also set its sights on a staged reopening plan.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: What you need to know about Germany’s Covid reopening plan

The proposals for travel would see over a hundred countries scrubbed from the risk list to allow unvaccinated travellers to enter Germany from these regions without having to quarantine.

Though Omicron is one of the most highly transmissible Covid variants, it generally causes a much milder course of illness than previous variants such as Delta. 

It continues to be the dominant variant in the vast majority of countries worldwide.

Changes for families

In addition to changes to the designation of high-risk areas, there are also plans to make life easier for families with young children.

From March 4th, children aged 6-12 will be able to test immediately after returning from a high-risk area to allow them to avoid having to quarantine.

Previously, all unvaccinated people over the age of six had to quarantine for up to ten days, with the option to test for an early release on the fifth day of quarantine.

Children under the age of six will be exempted from the testing requirement and will be automatically released from quarantine after five days. 

READ ALSO: German Health Ministry set to end quarantine for child travellers

Explaining the changes, the Health Ministry pointed to the fact that there is currently no general recommendation for children under the age of 12 to get vaccinated.

Rather, the Standing Vaccines Commission recommends that children with health conditions or those who have contact with people in risk groups, such as elderly grandparents, should get the Covid jabs. 

Regardless of whether people are arriving from a high-risk area, a general obligation to supply proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test applies to everyone over the age of six upon entry into Germany. 

However, people who aren't coming from a country on the RKI's risk list don't have to register on the Digital Entry Portal or quarantine upon arrival. 

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The Local 2022/02/23 10:05

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