Düsseldorf It is true that strict rules apply to German tourists during Whitsun in the Netherlands. But compliance with the rules and isolation cannot easily be controlled. Authorities appeal to the common sense of citizens.
The Whitsun weekend is just around the corner, raising concerns that this could lead to careless tourist activity. The Federal Ministry of Health therefore amended the Corona entry regulation last week as a precautionary measure. Anyone who stays longer than 24 hours in a high-incidence area such as France or the Netherlands must then go into domestic quarantine and cannot be cleared for five days at the earliest.
And it is also important to keep an eye on the rules at the vacation destination: "Anyone who feels an insatiable desire to go on vacation to the Dutch seaside must inform themselves very carefully about the regulations that apply there," advises Michael Mertens, NRW state chairman of the police union. At present, he says, talks are taking place about an adjustment with German tourists in mind. "The situation can change very quickly there," says Mertens.
Strict entry rules on Dutch side likely to deter many vacationers
The strict entry rules on the Dutch side are already likely to deter many vacationers from even considering an overnight visit. Since Germany is considered a risk area by the Dutch, those entering the country - even in vacation homes - must immediately enter a ten-day domestic quarantine.
"On the return journey, the question is who should and can really control compliance with the entry regulation - for air travel, this may still be easy, but for those who cross the border on foot, by car or bicycle, it becomes more difficult," says Mertens. The federal police are currently carrying out intelligent spot checks within a 30-kilometer radius of the border. Everything else, he says, is primarily the responsibility of municipal law enforcement agencies.
"I strongly advise against ignoring the entry regulation. This is a regulation characterized by common sense," says the head of the GdP in NRW. People should realize that they could get caught. "At the latest, if they have brought the virus with them, and that then comes to light, or if someone gets caught at work and is reported to the authorities, the person concerned risks severe penalties. That in itself should act as a deterrent."
Mertens speaks of a situation where people are not quite at the end of the tunnel yet, but can already see the light. "I certainly understand that it is difficult to convey to vacation home owners not to travel now, but everyone should critically question themselves whether it is not excessive, so close to the end of the pandemic, to absolutely have to live out one's desire for freedom in a high-incidence area.“
Control of entry quarantine is carried out by the municipalities at the place of residence
A spokeswoman for the NRW Ministry of Health said in response to a question that border control continues to be carried out by the relevant state and federal authorities. "In this context, against the background of open borders, no comprehensive control can be carried out, but in this area, too, we must also rely on the insight of citizens and their prudent behavior." He added that the control of the entry quarantine is carried out by the municipalities responsible at the place of residence.
However, Verena Schäffer, head of the Greens' parliamentary group in the Düsseldorf state parliament, warned that municipal health and public order offices were currently working at high capacity. "That's why it's important that people themselves recognize the need to quarantine themselves after a long visit to the neighboring country." Schäffer also advises, if possible, to completely refrain from traveling to the Netherlands while incidence levels there are still so high. "We expect the state government to communicate this more strongly as well. However, border closures are the wrong way to go."
(Original text: Maximilian Plück, Translation: Mareike Graepel)