For now only Europe Federal government curtails summer holiday plans
Berlin/Brussels · Allgaü in southern Germany: no problem. Algarve in Portugal: also possible. Antalya in Turkey: not yet. That's the German government's recommendation to German summer vacationers. But this can still change.
Yes to vacations outside of Germany, but only within certain borders and at your own risk: With this message, the German government is sending its citizens on their summer vacations during the corona pandemic.
Germany will lift its worldwide travel warning for 28 European countries this Monday, and three more countries are expected to be added. But Germany will extend its travel warning for more than 160 other countries until August 31. This was decided by the German Cabinet on Wednesday.
But following discussions with the twelve countries that are most popular holiday destinations for Germans, Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas made it clear on Thursday that there could still be exceptions - for example popular holiday destinations such as Turkey, which has already resumed air travel to Germany. Talks are now being held on this. "We'll review this week by week.“
Maas also stressed that the travel warnings and travel advice issued by the federal government were only a recommendation and not a regulation. "The responsibility for a trip, that's up to each person. A travel warning is not a travel ban.” No matter where you go, "Enjoy your summer vacation, but do so with caution and enjoy it responsibly.”
Maas had issued travel warnings for around 200 countries on March 17 - allowing for free cancellation of trips. Travel warnings will be lifted for Germany's 26 partner countries in the European Union, the United Kingdom, which has just left the EU, and the four countries of the border-free Schengen area that are not members of the EU: Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. For 28 countries, the travel warning is lifted from June 15, but it will come later for Spain and Norway where there are still restrictions on entry.
Sweden is also likely to experience a delay. The German Foreign Office points out on its website that the EU country does not currently meet the so-called pandemic criteria for lifting the warning. "If a country exceeds the number of newly infected persons in relation to the population of less than 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants cumulatively in the last 7 days, the travel warning will remain in effect or be issued again. This currently applies to Sweden," it says. Sweden had adopted much more liberal measures in managing the corona pandemic than the rest of Europe.
For countries where the travel warning is lifted, the government plans to provide detailed travel information on the country-specific risks. This can also mean that (non-essential) tourist travel is not recommended. In the case of Great Britain, for example, this will be the case as long as there is still a 14-day quarantine obligation for all those entering the country.
The German government says the travel warning still applies to more than 160 countries because travel restrictions and quarantine regulations could be reintroduced in countries outside the EU "without any prior notice and with immediate effect". It was because of such sudden measures that tens of thousands of German tourists were stranded abroad in March. 240,000 were brought back to Germany in efforts that took one week, something the government wants to avoid in the future.
The travel association DRV described the decision as not "proportionate" because it lumped together some 160 countries. "The pandemic is subsiding in many countries around the world," said DRV President Norbert Fiebig. He called for differentiated travel advice as soon as possible. At the same time, he pointed out that in the event of a crisis, tour operators were bringing back tourists who booked holiday packages.
Maas showed understanding for the companies, but defended his decision: "I know from many conversations how hard the pandemic has hit the travel industry, but the fact remains: for us, the top priority is the safety of travelers.”
Turkish hoteliers reacted disappointed. Turkey should be "among the first countries" for which the travel warning is lifted, said Erkan Yagci, head of the Mediterranean Hotelier and Tourist Association (Aktob). His country had done "pioneering work" and taken numerous precautions against the spread of the coronavirus.
Turkey is eagerly awaiting the German tourists who are so important for the tourism industry. The semi-state airline Turkish Airlines (THY) resumed its international flights on Thursday after a break of more than two months. The first flights from Istanbul Airport started out with the destinations of London and Düsseldorf. The flight schedule of the subsidiary Anadolu Jet included connections from Ankara and Istanbul to Berlin and Frankfurt.
Egypt also plans to resume air traffic to main holiday destinations on the Sinai Peninsula and the Red Sea such as Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh on July 1. After Turkey, Egypt is the second most popular holiday destination for Germans outside the EU.
A recommendation by the EU Commission on Thursday could encourage a lifting of the travel warning for holiday destinations outside Europe. The ban on entry into the European Union, which was introduced during the corona crisis - i.e. in the opposite direction to travel - is to be extended until July 1. After that, however, it is to be gradually lifted. For this purpose, the EU states are now expected to jointly draw up a list of countries that are eligible for this. EU Interior Commissioner Ylva Johansson said that lifting the entry ban would be possible for all countries "which are in a similar or better situation compared to the EU”.
Looking at those criteria, countries such as the USA or Russia, where the situation is currently significantly worse than in the EU, are unlikely to be on the list for the time being. But the EU Commission believes that travelers from the Balkans could soon return to the EU.
The EU Commission's proposal is important for German vacationers going abroad because the German government only wants to lift the travel warning for countries where the entry ban has already been lifted. From July 1, there could be some swift changes - if the EU states can agree on a common list.
(Orig. text: Michael Fischer, Michel Winde und Friederike Marx, dpa; Translation: Carol Kloeppel)