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Safe destination wanted : Holidays in coronavirus times: Where to go during the autumn vacation?

Safe destination wanted : Holidays in coronavirus times: Where to go during the autumn vacation?

The autumn vacations are coming up in some federal states. But if you want to travel, you should be well informed. This overview shows what to keep in mind when infection rates and entry regulations are rising.

After more than six months, the blanket Corona travel warning for more than 160 countries outside the EU has now been lifted. Now, every country in the world is assessed individually.

But where can you travel to now? And what rules apply in the countries? Here is an overview of popular European travel countries for the autumn vacation.

FRANCE: With the exception of the Grand Est region that borders Germany, which also includes the Alsace metropolis of Strasbourg, a travel warning applies to France. The coronavirus situation in France is extremely tense.

For the remaining regions, the usual entry restrictions on returning to Germany with quarantine and compulsory tests apply. For travellers from Germany, however, there are no restrictions in France.

France has thousands of new coronavirus infections every day - the highest is more than 16,000 infections within 24 hours. In many cities, face coverings are also mandatory outside. In the port city of Marseille, bars and restaurants are completely closed. In cities such as Paris, Lille or Rennes, bars have to close at 10 p.m.

SWITZERLAND: Two cantons in French-speaking Switzerland are considered risk areas for Germany. Returnees would have to go into quarantine after a visit or vacation there without a negative coronavirus test: These are the cantons of Geneva and Vaud on Lake Geneva. In Geneva, there have recently been more than 1,600 cases of infection per 100,000 inhabitants, and 1,300 in the canton of Vaud. Across Switzerland, there were at least 600 cases. No restrictions apply to the border region with Germany, from Basel to St. Gallen not far from Lake Constance, and to the autumn hiking areas in Graubünden, Valais and the Bernese Oberland. The infection figures have increased in Switzerland since July and measured per capita, they have been significantly higher than those in Germany. Since mid-September, however, they have been declining slightly again.

ITALY: Holiday trips to Italy are currently possible from Germany without restrictions. With a rate of about 38 registered corona infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days, the country is in a comparatively good position within Europe. However, anyone entering from Greece, Malta, Spain, Croatia and many parts of France must have a negative coronavirus test. In several popular tourist regions like Sardinia, Calabria, Apulia and Sicily, immediate registration with the authorities is necessary. Sicily has also decreed the requirement for quick tests on entry.

In addition, holidaymakers should pay attention to some things: In shops, trains, museums and inside restaurants, face coverings are mandatory throughout the country. When groups pf people become dense in the evenings, in front of bars for example, a face covering must be worn after 6 p.m., also outside. In Sicily, everyone over the age of six must wear a face covering outdoors as soon as other people are around. Overall, many Italians are very careful and often move out of the way on pavements. A further tip: airlines often reject sewn protective face coverings and often insist on disposable surgical masks on flights.

AUSTRIA: Visitors from Germany are welcomed in Austria and there are no entry restrictions. Because the German threshold index of 50 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants seven days has been exceeded in parts of the country, and in some cases significantly, travel warnings apply to Vienna and also to the Vorarlberg and the Tyrol. In the two western states, the weekly incidence recently fell just below 50 and the authorities hope that the travel warning will soon be lifted again. Until then, many hotels or individual municipalities offer more or less free coronavirus tests for departing visitors.

For Vienna, its status as a risk area with recently approximately 116 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants over seven days will probably remain for the foreseeable future. The capital continues to have more than half of all known current coronavirus cases in Austria. After the infection figures suddenly at least doubled at the beginning of September, the increase has slowed again somewhat, thanks in part to a widespread obligation to wear face coverings. Nationally, there were about 8,400 known active coronavirus cases on Wednesday 30 September.

GREECE and CYPRUS: Greece and Cyprus continue to have low coronavirus numbers. Out of the approximately 11 million inhabitants of Greece, almost 18,000 people have been infected so far. By contrast, there have been about 45,000 cases in the federal state of Baden-Württemberg, which has a similar population size, whereas there are fewer than 2,000 cases on Cyprus, which has 1.2 million inhabitants. Nevertheless, the number of coronavirus cases has risen more strongly during and after the summer tourist season, and the government is particularly concerned about the numbers in large cities such as Athens, where 240 new cases were recently recorded within one day.

Entry from Germany is permitted, but travellers must register at least 48 hours before departure at travel.gov.gr (Greece) or cyprusflightpass.gov.cy (Cyprus) and indicate where they are coming from and where they will be staying. In addition, random coronavirus tests will be conducted at airports and ports.

Face coverings are mandatory in both countries in enclosed spaces, such as banks, supermarkets, government offices, buses and trains. However, the rules can be tightened in more heavily frequented regions: In Athens, Thessaloniki and Crete, for example, face coverings are compulsory outdoors, and bars and restaurants close at midnight. In less-frequented areas, the regulations are not as strict, and face coverings do not have to be worn in pubs and bars or outdoors. Bars and restaurants are also allowed to stay open for longer in the evening. However, the measures can be extended there at short notice if coronavirus numbers increase.

SPAIN AND PORTUGAL: Spain, after a short breather in summer, is again struggling with the highest coronavirus infection rates in Western Europe. The whole country, including the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands, is considered a risk area and the German Foreign Office warns against tourist travel there. Throughout the country, face coverings are also compulsory outdoors, and the number of seats in restaurants, cafés, cinemas, museums and concert halls is reduced. Many have to close at 10 p.m., and some communities or districts, may only be entered with good reason.

The worst area is the capital Madrid. The city government is currently restricting citizens' freedom of movement out of concern that the economy will collapse, and the central government warns that the measures taken so far are inadequate and that the situation could get completely out of control. On Wednesday 30 September, a possible compromise emerged, according to which all major cities in the country would be partially sealed off upwards of a 14-day incidence of 500 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants.

Compared with Madrid, the situation is more relaxed in the holiday destinations that are particularly popular with Germans. Majorca, for example, has a 7-day incidence per 100,000 inhabitants of about 64, the Canary Islands 51, and the Valencia region with long Mediterranean beaches and many places of interest even below the threshold of 50, above which Germany declares a region a risk area.

Portugal has so far come through the Coronavirus crisis better than Spain. Although the number of infections has risen there as well, it is far from as high as in its neighbouring country. Only in the capital region of Lisbon is the 7-day incidence above 50, which is therefore considered a risk area.

There are no entry restrictions for travellers from Germany to Spain and Portugal.

Here is the RKI list of international risk areas

(Original text, dpa; translation, John Chandler)