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TRAVEL: Germany removes all countries from Covid ‘high risk’ list

Germany's high risk Covid travel list will be wiped clean on Thursday, making it easier to enter the country.

A passenger walks at Munich Airport in October 2021.
A passenger walks at Munich Airport in October 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) said late on Tuesday that sweeping changes would be coming into force from Thursday. 

“With the widespread occurrence of the Omicron variant, the probability of this variant to have a severe course is shown to be less compared to the previous prevalent variants,” said the RKI.

“Therefore, as of Thursday, March 3rd, 2022 at 0:00am, no states/regions will be considered as high-risk areas with the Third Amendment to the Coronavirus Entry Regulation coming into force.”

The RKI said the designation of a high-risk area will only be made for those regions “where there is a high incidence in terms of the spread of variants with higher virulence, compared to the Omicron variant”.

They said that means no countries will be classified as high risk as of March 3rd. 

It will see around 60 countries wiped from the high risk list, including Austria, France, Greece, Switzerland and the Netherlands. The full list is available in English on the RKI’s website.

The move was originally planned for Friday. 

READ ALSO: The Covid rules changing in Germany this week

What does this mean?

The move significantly relaxes rules for travelling. 

When coming from a high risk region, unvaccinated travellers arriving in Germany have to quarantine for up to 10 days. They can take a Covid test five days into the quarantine at the earliest. If it is negative they can end the quarantine. 

Now unvaccinated people will not have to quarantine.

The obligation for everyone to register online before entering Germany also no longer applies.

However, the German Health Ministry pointed out that the 3G rule, which means that people entering the country must either be fully vaccinated, recovered or tested against Covid-19, still applies. That means unvaccinated people have to carry evidence of a negative Covid test before arrival.

Under the new rules, the obligation to provide proof of Covid status will apply to people from the age of 12 instead of six.

According to the new regulation, families with children will also be granted relief in future, too. 

Children aged 6-12 will be able to test immediately after returning from any future 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 10 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. 

Tougher rules will still apply if a country is classed as a ‘virus variant’ area in future. 

“The designation of countries as virus variant areas will continue to be reserved for those areas where a new variant with very particular threatening characteristics emerges (e.g. if vaccination is not effective),” a Health Ministry spokesman told The Local.  

It comes after Germany removed almost 40 countries from the high risk list on Sunday, including Italy, Poland and Sweden.

Since the outbreak of the Covid pandemic in spring 2020, Germany has classified regions with different risk statuses.

Depending on the classification, different rules have applied.

There are also other travel restrictions in place for travellers. For instance, only vaccinated people are generally allowed to travel to Germany from non-EU countries unless that country is on the ‘safe list’, or they are a German resident. 

READ ALSO: The new rules for entering Germany with an EU Covid pass

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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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