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Germany drops Covid entry restrictions for non-EU travellers

Germany has relaxed all of its entry restrictions, making it easier for people to travel from non-EU countries.

Travellers at Berlin's airport.
Travellers at Berlin's airport. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Soeder

The German government said that from Saturday June 11th “all Covid-19 entry restrictions to Germany will be provisionally lifted “.

The change means that entry into Germany is now allowed for all travel purposes, including tourism. The move makes travel easier – and cheaper – for people coming from non-EU countries, particularly families who may have needed multiple Covid tests for children. 

However, people living in China still need an important reason to enter Germany, the Foreign Office said, unless they are a German citizen.

It comes after Germany relaxed the requirement for travellers to show their Covid status before being allowed to Germany. 

People no longer have to show proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test against Covid before coming to Germany – the so-called 3G rule. 

However, if a country is deemed a ‘virus variant area’ then tougher entry rules apply. These include a ban on entry for non German residents, and a two-week quarantine for those who are allowed to enter, even for the fully vaccinated.

No country is classified as ‘virus variant’ by Germany currently. Travellers should keep an eye on any risk-level changes on the Robert Koch Institute’s risk list.

Authorities said that rule had been temporarily lifted until at least August 31st. 

What were the rules for people coming from non-EU countries?

Travel from within the EU to Germany has been more simple for some time now. 

But before June 11th, there were additional restrictions for entry from non-EU countries. 

People coming from most non-EU countries had to be fully vaccinated to enter Germany. Unvaccinated people were generally not allowed to enter unless they had an essential reason to do so. There were exceptions for German and EU residents.

Meanwhile, children under 12 who were not yet vaccinated could enter the country with at least one fully vaccinated parent and proof of a negative Covid test. Children under the age of six didn’t need a test. 

The changes mean people are allowed to freely enter Germany from almost anywhere in the world for any reason without having to show their Covid status, unless any additional restrictions apply such as a country becoming a ‘virus variant’ region. 

What else has changed?

Another change is that Germany now accepts vaccines approved by WHO, as well as by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

A spokesman from the German Health Ministry recently told The Local: “For entry into Germany, complete vaccination with vaccines other than those approved in the EU will also be recognised in future, provided they are listed in the WHO emergency use list. These include CoronaVac, Sinopharm BIBP and Covaxin.”

This is important to know in case entry restrictions do come back into force. 

READ ALSO: What to know about Germany’s relaxed Covid entry rules

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TRAVEL NEWS

Will German transport companies hike fares after €9 ticket?

Germany's popular €9 ticket deal is due to end in September, and there's still no clarity over a new budget offer. Will customers have to deal with hefty price rises in the meantime?

Will German transport companies hike fares after €9 ticket?

When September arrives, public transport users will have spent the entire summer enjoying unlimited monthly travel for the cost of a normal day ticket in most metropoles.

Despite recent polls suggesting that a good 85 percent of people want to see the €9 ticket – or a similar deal – continue, the offer is nonetheless due to expire in autumn.

Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) has pledged to discuss a potential successor at the transport ministers’ conference in October – but at least until then, customers may have to reckon with even higher prices for their regular tickets. 

In a survey of transport operators around Germany, DPA sought to find out how many were planning to increase the cost of their tariffs in the near future.

READ ALSO:

The results revealed that, in a number of districts around Germany, price increases were in the cards.

In some cases, significant tariff increases have already been decided, while in others the corresponding committee meetings were still pending.

In and around Stuttgart, for example, fares will rise by an average of 4.9 percent at the start of the new year, while in the greater Nuremberg area they will go up by three percent.

In the region covered by the Rhein-Main transport association, which includes Frankfurt and the surrounding area, a 3.9 percent increase was implemented in July.

Several of Germany’s regional transport operators are due to meet in September and October to decide on future tariffs.

With the price of fuel and electricity – two major expenses for transport companies – both soaring in recent months, these additional costs are expected to have an impact on ticket prices around the country.

READ ALSO: How the Greens want to replace Germany’s €9 ticket deal

The Berlin-Brandenburg transport association (VBB), for example, uses an index of fuel, electricity and consumer prices when deciding on future changes to tariffs.

However, a spokesperson for VBB told Spiegel that while the index was “included in considerations”, it was not the sole criterion for price decisions.

This may explain why even in Stuttgart – where tariffs will go up by almost five percent – the price hikes still remain under the level of inflation.

A future €9 ticket?

In its survey, DPA also gauged opinions on a future cheap travel deal. It found that most transport operators were in favour of a new offer – as long as their costs are reimbursed with state funding.

“For the associations, the first priority in a possible successor arrangement is adequacy,” the Rhein-Sieg transport association explained.

For Stuttgart’s transport operator, additional state funding is necessary for maintaining stock and expanding the offer for consumers, even if regular tariffs remain in place.

“Currently, the transport companies are facing major financial problems in view of galloping energy prices,” a spokesperson told DPA.

Passengers enter the U-Bahn train in Stuttgart

Passengers enter the U-Bahn train in Stuttgart. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bernd Weißbrod

Meanwhile, Munich’s transport association believes that offers like the €9 ticket play a role in encouraging people to transition to public transport in the first place. However, only a good service can convince people to stay in the long-run.

“With the €9 ticket, we have regained the pre-Covid demand as quickly as probably no one expected,” said Knut Ringat, managing director of the Rhein-Main transport association. “But the €9 ticket has also shown that more tracks and additional vehicles are needed so that more people can use public transport.”

In autumn, a federal-state working group wants to present proposals on the future and financing of local public transport.

The Association of German Transport Companies has already proposed a permanent €69 monthly ticket that would apply to public transport nationwide. They estimates that this would cost the federal government around €2 billion a year.

READ ALSO: German transport operators float plans for €69 ‘Klimaticket’

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