Frankfurt/Main The airline industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and fears that stricter quarantine requirements will make a bad situation worse. It calls the new measures “disproportionate.”
Plans to require stricter quarantine rules on travelers returning to Germany have led to massive protests in the airline industry. The German Aviation Association (BDL) and German Airports Association (ADV) called the measures "disproportionate" because a quarantine of at least five days followed by a negative corona test would mean a renewed “lockdown” of flight operations. The new measures are planned for the beginning of October.
The founder of the pharmaceutical company Centogene, Arndt Rolfs, proposed a double test on Friday. "As an alternative to the five-day compulsory quarantine, at the end of which a negative test result must be obtained in order to end the quarantine, it is reasonable to offer the possibility of testing on the day of entry and after five days in order to escape the compulsory quarantine."
According to the agreement reached by the state premiers on Thursday, those returning to Germany from high-risk areas will be required to take a Covid-19 test upon entry until at least October 1. For those not coming from high-risk areas, free testing will no longer be available as of September 16. BDL CEO Matthias von Randow pointed out that the returnees who tested positive were only to a very small extent from areas where people used airplanes as their travel mode. "The vast majority of the travelers who tested positive came from Kosovo and other Balkan countries, where the main form of travel was not by plane but by car.
"A second lockdown would be fatal for the airports," warned Ralph Beisel of the ADV. "It would be better to continue to use the established test infrastructure at airports and quickly test travelers coming from high-risk areas". During the discussion, managers from Lufthansa and the airport operator Fraport also spoke out against stricter quarantine rules for returnees.
The BDL appealed to the federal government and the states to use the remaining time until October to avoid a “lockdown” (the word they chose to describe the possible scenario). Sufficient testing capacities could be provided; they would have to be used sensibly and efficiently. Von Randow also suggested that the risk analysis should consider the individual regions of the countries outside Europe. It shouldn’t be necessary to declare entire countries as high-risk areas.
Centogene CEO Arndt Rolfs said his company will keep the testing centers operational in Frankfurt and Hamburg. "Having testing centers in the symbols of mobility - and these are the airports - is a crucial contribution to the fight against the pandemic." In the short term, he expects the number of tests to decrease as the state plans are implemented, the neurologist said. "In the medium and long term, however, they will undoubtedly continue to rise, because tests will remain essential for a long time to come. The vaccine will not be widely available in good quality within the next two years.” In the beginning, the Centogene test centers carried out corona tests exclusively for those who paid out-of-pocket. In the future, testing will remain available - for example for customers who have to present a recent corona test result when entering China or Israel. The testing centers will also be easy to reach for those arriving. "The test must come to the user."
(Orig. text: Christian Ebner, dpa / Translation: ck)