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Preventive measure: Germany bans travel from virus variant countries starting Saturday

Preventive measure : Germany bans travel from virus variant countries starting Saturday

Testing and quarantine requirements are already in place. Now, getting into Germany will be made more difficult for some because of the latest developments in the coronavirus pandemic. The aim is to contain the spread of highly contagious virus mutations.

For countries already experiencing widespread cases of the new coronavirus variants deemed more infectious than the original strain, a wide-ranging travel ban will apply in Germany beginning on Saturday, January 30.

The German government decided on a ban on airlines, trains, buses and ships until Feb. 17, but with numerous exceptions for all Germans and foreigners living in Germany, among others, as well as for transit passengers and the movement of goods, the Federal Ministry of the Interior confirmed to the German Press Agency when asked. Those countries initially affected are Great Britain, Ireland, Portugal, South Africa and Brazil, and from Sunday also the small African states of Lesotho and Estwani.

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) had already announced the entry ban on Thursday. It mainly affects the airlines. Lufthansa alone currently offers 55 round-trip flights per week to the affected countries. Because of the numerous exemption rules, however, not all of them are likely to be canceled.

In addition to the exceptions mentioned, there are others as well. The transport of medical personnel, ambulance flights, organ transport and transport "for urgent humanitarian reasons" are still permitted. Transit passengers may also continue to land in Germany, and airline crews and ships may also enter the country.

The German government had already made it more difficult to enter Germany in recent weeks and months. Around 160 of the almost 200 countries worldwide are now classified in one of three coronavirus risk categories. For the lowest category, testing is mandatory no later than 48 hours after entry and a ten-day quarantine period is required. One can be released from quarantine after five days following a second negative test.

For around 40 countries in the two higher risk categories - including areas with the Covid mutation - the rules were already tightened last week. People entering from these countries must now present a negative test as soon as they enter the country, which has led to queues and traffic jams at the German-Czech border.

The German government imposed the entry ban on its own, not in unison with EU partners. The background to this is that the 27 EU states couldn’t come to an agreement on a uniform approach to mutation areas. An agreement on Friday only came up with recommendations for stricter rules when traveling within the European Union - falling short of what Germany had wanted.

Orig. text: dpa (German Press Agency)

Translation: ck