Berlin Spain, France and Cyprus have already been designated as such. Now, the Robert Koch Institute has added Turkey and the USA to the list of Covid high-risk areas, along with a few other countries. For travelers, this has implications.
Due to rising Covid-19 infection numbers, the German government has classified Turkey as a high-risk area. Starting on Tuesday, travelers from the popular vacation destination who have not been vaccinated or have not recovered will have to spend five to ten days in quarantine, the Robert Koch Institute announced on Friday.
Starting on Sunday, the United States, Israel, Kenya, Montenegro, Vietnam and two French overseas territories will also fall under the classification as high-risk areas. Portugal, on the other hand, is no longer on the risk list, with the exception of the coastal region of Algarve, which is particularly popular with tourists, and the capital Lisbon.
Fully vaccinated or recovered persons entering Germany from high-risk areas are exempt from the quarantine requirement. All others must isolate themselves after entry and can only be exempted after five days with a negative test.
Nearly 70 countries are high-risk areas
Countries and regions with a particularly high risk of infection are classified as high-risk areas. Unlike in the past, however, it is not only the number of infections that is decisive. Other criteria include the speed at which the virus is spreading, the burden on the healthcare system in a country, or even a lack of data on the Covid situation.
With the new classifications, there will be nearly 70 countries that are fully or partially classified as high-risk areas. They already include Spain, southern France and Cyprus, which are popular vacation destinations for Germans. With Turkey, another top vacation destination has now been added.
Turkey battles against Covid-19 and forest fires
Coronavirus case numbers in Turkey rose rapidly at the end of July, with well over 20,000 new cases currently being registered every day in some cases. In July, it was still about 7,000 per day. By comparison, about 5,578 new cases were reported in Germany on Friday - with a similar population. At the beginning of July, Turkey had greatly relaxed coronavirus restrictions: for example, nighttime curfews during the week and on weekends were lifted, the restaurant industry reopened, weddings and similar festivities were permitted again.
Tourism is an important source of income for the country. Last year, it had plummeted by about 70 percent. In the first quarter of this year, revenues were about 40 percent lower than in the same period last year. Most tourists in Turkey are coming from Russia, followed by people from Germany. In addition to Covid, the devastating forest fires in the southwest of the country are also causing problems for the industry.
Limited impact initially for travel to the USA
The classification of the U.S. is likely to have little impact on travel for the time being. Washington is working on easing entry restrictions for Europeans. However, it is still unclear when this will happen. The highly contagious delta variant is keeping the Americans from opening the border. The German business community has been hoping for it to reopen for a long time already. The classification as a high-risk area is likely to be a damper for them.
Ex-vaccination world leader on the risk list
Israel's classification as a high-risk area may come as a surprise to many. The country was once hailed as the vaccination world leader. But that was once upon a time. True, Israel on Friday became the first country in the world to begin the third vaccination for people over 50, after more than 775,000 people aged 60 and older already received a third vaccination. But the number of those fully vaccinated is in danger of stagnating. A good 58 percent of the more than 9.4 million Israelis are vaccinated - in this respect, other countries have already overtaken the former vaccination world leader.
Young people in particular are hesitant about vaccination, and the proportion of unvaccinated people among the country's Arab population is also relatively high compared with the proportion of the population. In recent days, the head of the government, Naftali Bennett, has emphatically pleaded with these groups to get vaccinated, and influencers are also to make a strong case for vaccination on social media. The delta variant in particular is on the rise, and in the middle of the Israeli summer, many people with mouth-to-nose covers have tended to be reluctant. A rethink is gradually becoming noticeable here, partly because many people are afraid of a new lockdown.
According to a report on the news site ynet, Israel's government expects up to 2,400 seriously ill Covid patients by mid-September. At the height of the pandemic in Israel in January, the number of seriously ill people was around 1,200.