Berlin · Travelers returning to Germany now face stricter rules, having to provide proof of a COVID vaccination, recovery or a negative test result when entering the country. Random checks are being carried out on autobahns and other federal roads and on trains. So far, it seems that travelers have been prepared for the new requirement.
The German Federal Police are stepping up controls on the COVID testing requirement for travelers returning from abroad. The new rule has been in effect since Sunday, August 1 and is a step towards preventing a further spread of the coronavirus at the end of summer vacations.
All people aged twelve and over must be able to prove on entry that they have either tested negative, have had a COVID vaccination or are recovered. Such a requirement already existed for all airline passengers. Now it applies to all means of transport, i.e. also when entering the country by car or train.
"Random checks are being carried out. But we are trying to check as many people entering the country as possible," said Holger Uhlitzsch, spokesman for the German Federal Police in Pirna, referring to Saxony's borders with Poland and the Czech Republic. The focus of the checks, he said, is on the autobahns and federal roads, as well as on the Prague-Berlin train route. However, no one is to be turned back at the borders. No fines will be levied directly. Instead, any violations will be recorded and forwarded to the appropriate authorities, explained the spokesman for the federal police.
In Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland, there are checks within a radius of up to 30 kilometers on the German side, according to a spokesman for the federal police in Koblenz. In Bavaria, too, they are checking at the borders with Austria and the Czech Republic to see if people are complying with the new entry rules. At the German-Austrian border in Kiefersfelden, the checks went off without a hitch, a spokeswoman for the federal police said: "The travelers are well prepared." There were also no problems at Selb in northern Bavaria, on the border with the Czech Republic. "Things are running smoothly," said a spokesman for the federal police.
Appeal to returning travelers
Bavaria's Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann (CSU) appealed to vacationers to abide by the new rules. "We must do everything possible to minimize the introduction of new infections." Like Herrmann, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) warned in the "Bild am Sonntag" newspaper that violations could result in heavy fines.
The controls in the north at the national borders from Poland to Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and from Denmark to Schleswig-Holstein have also started up without any problems. By early afternoon, no violations had been registered during the random checks, according to a spokeswoman for the Federal Police Headquarters in Bad Bramstedt. There are also random checks being carried out in the seaports. Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania are the first to start the new school year on Monday.
People returning from so-called ‘areas of variant of concern’ must provide a negative test result. Proof of vaccination or recovery is not sufficient in this case. In addition, as of Sunday, there are only two categories instead of three for global areas with higher infection risks: High-risk areas and areas where new ‘virus variants of concern’ are circulating. Only Brazil and Uruguay are currently on the Robert Koch Institute's list of virus variant areas.
Orig. text: dpa