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Minister of Health: Covid-19 decision: Tourists returning from high-risk areas should be tested

Minister of Health: Covid-19 decision : Tourists returning from high-risk areas should be tested

Anyone returning to Germany from risk areas must spend two weeks in quarantine. But not everyone complies with this. Politicians now want to change the rules. But some questions remain.

In the future, travellers from so-called risk areas abroad will be tested for the coronavirus immediately after their return to Germany. For this purpose, test stations are to be set up at airports.

This is the line that the federal and state health ministers' conference agreed on at a video conference, without first making a formal decision.

On Friday, the ministers want to meet again to discuss further details on how to deal with travel returnees, and then decide on an overall package. Financing issues are likely to play a role in this. The tests are to be mandatory.

Up to now, people returning from countries severely affected by the coronavirus have had to spend 14 days in domestic quarantine in Germany. It is not clear, however, whether they actually always do this and report to the responsible health authorities. That is why the politicians want to make adjustments there.

According to the Federal Ministry of Health, the switch was not only about the question of whether and how returnees from risk areas are tested. The topic was also "how to better enforce quarantine requirements".

German airports still see open questions regarding the planned corona tests. "In any case, if the health authorities order a rapid test of any kind, this would have to be carried out by the authorities," explained the German Airports Association.

Airport employees are not authorised to check passengers for their health status. "It must also then be determined how to deal with passengers who have been tested positive.“

Worldwide, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) currently classifies the majority of countries as corona risk areas. This applies, for example, to the USA, Russia and Brazil. On the other hand, there is no quarantine obligation for travellers from almost all EU countries - the exception is Luxembourg - and some other European countries such as Switzerland.

Many Germans are currently on holiday in Spain, France, Italy or Greece - countries that are not classified as risk areas. Nevertheless, there may be an increased risk of infection with Sars-CoV-2. Recently, unrestrained parties of holidaymakers without masks and distancing had made the headlines on Mallorca and also scared the politicians.

It remains to be seen whether the federal and state governments also see a need for action here. The deputy chairman of the FDP parliamentary group, Michael Theurer, calls for a test strategy agreed between the federal and state governments for holidaymakers returning from the Mediterranean, for example. "Germany cannot afford a second Ischgl." Celebrations in the Austrian ski resort of Ischgl are considered a starting point for the spread of Sars-CoV-2 in Germany as well.

(Original text: dpa, Translation: Mareike Graepel)