Bonn/Region · Starting on Saturday, August 8, travelers returning to Germany from high- risk areas are required to take a Covid-19 test. Offenders face a fine of up to 25,000 euros. Many companies in the region have already prepared for the situation.
In order to better control the coronavirus spread in Germany, travelers returning from high-risk areas are required to undergo coronavirus testing starting this Saturday, August 8. It will be free of charge - but offenders could face fines of up to 25,000 euros. This was announced by German Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) on Thursday. "I am very aware that this is an encroachment on the freedom of the individual", he said, but he also emphasized that the requirement was reasonable. "Freedom does not always mean freedom for me alone."
Previously, all vacationers returning to Germany from high-risk areas had to go directly into domestic quarantine for 14 days and report to the health authorities. This can be shortened considerably with a negative test result within 72 hours of return (the quarantine applies until a negative result is received). Testing is available at airports and train stations, and at health care centers and doctor’s offices. Those traveling by car will only be checked by the federal police on a random basis, the minister announced.
Countries considered to be high-risk are posted on a list on the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) website: RKI - Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 - Informationen zur Ausweisung internationaler Risikogebiete durch das Auswärtige Amt, BMG und BMI High-risk EU countries currently include Luxembourg, the Belgian province of Antwerp and the three Spanish regions of Aragon, Catalonia and Navarre.
he main criterion is in which states or regions there have been more than 50 newly infected persons per 100,000 inhabitants in the last seven days. A survey shows that many companies in Bonn and the region have prepared their employees for returning to work long before the mandatory testing went into effect.
Deutsche Post DHL Group
"The safety of our employees and customers is our top priority. For this reason, since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the task force of Deutsche Post DHL Group has been closely monitoring current global developments and fully implementing the regulations and recommendations of local health authorities and international organizations such as the WHO," says spokeswoman Lara Nüßler: "This also applies to travel. Our employees and their supervisors are constantly informed via internal communication about the risks of travel abroad and about possible measures that might need to be taken upon return - such as medical examinations, tests, voluntary quarantine and home office."
"Deutsche Telekom regularly reminds its employees of the risks involved in travel," explains company spokesman Husam Azrak. The company receives information from the RKI and the German Foreign Office. Deutsche Telekom also makes its own recommendations: "We are in regular contact with some countries where we have branches and are in contact with subsidiaries, for example," says Azrak.
Employees who have been on vacation in an area with low or decreasing case numbers are permitted to return to work at the office, with hygiene and safety measures still in effect. Alternatively, they can work from home. For those returning from countries for which the RKI has issued a travel warning, Telekom has a different plan.
Anyone who is not sent into quarantine by the authorities still has to work from home for 14 days. "If you really want to work from the office, you can also present two negative corona tests that are no more than three days apart," says Azrak. However, this has not happened so far. Employees who cannot work from home, such as shop assistants, are released from work by Deutsche Telekom for 14 days.
"Employees should be well-informed about their travels before going on holiday - especially since many things are different and take more time than usual because of the protective measures involved. It is also recommended to prepare in advance for the conditions at the vacation destination and the return trip," the Bonn-based institute says.
Since resuming production in May during the corona crisis, the Cologne car manufacturer Ford has been following a strict safety concept and, according to press spokeswoman Ute Mundolf, has done well with it so far. Anyone who steps through the factory gate has to have their temperature taken. A self-declaration must also be submitted regarding possible corona infection or contact with infected persons. One question refers to staying in a high-risk area. If you answer in the affirmative, you have to undergo a corona test. Ford cooperates with laboratories in Cologne and Saarlouis and pays for the test. Before employees go on holiday, Ford has informed them that anyone who travels to a high-risk area will have to quarantine for two weeks - unless they have had a negative test result.
In mid-March, the insurance company Zurich had already opted for employees to work from home. Since June 8, groups have been formed which are either in the office or at home on a weekly basis. In essence, around a quarter of the employees are in the office at one time. Since Tuesday, Zurich has been offering employees voluntary coronavirus and antibody testing at the company's expense. "We believe that in the end it is better to test more than less," said company spokesman Bernd O. Engelien.
"We have urged employees to check the current regulations for travel and their destination area before starting their trip. Private travel to areas for which there is a travel warning due to Covid-19 is still strongly discouraged," commented the Cologne-based engine manufacturer in responding to an inquiry.
Lemo mechanical engineering
Lemo Managing Director Bernd Schlarp appeals to the common sense of his employees: "We have asked all employees to act with common sense and have clearly said that if someone unfortunately returns infected, please add vacation days and home isolation to it instead of putting everyone and thus the workplace at risk.”
The beverage producer Eckes-Granini, which also operates a plant in Hennef-Bröl, takes the current situation and developments surrounding Covid-19 very seriously: "The safety and health of our employees, customers and partners are our highest priority. Vacation planning and the decision to travel abroad is of course the sole responsibility of our employees”. For persons returning from high-risk areas, they must adhere to the official government regulations.
(Orig. text: Ralf Arenz, Frank Rintelmann, Marie Schneider, Kristina Dunz; Translation: Carol Kloeppel)