Berlin (dpa) – To protect against the spread of corona after the summer holidays, holidaymakers should be prepared for extensive testing obligations when returning to Germany.
The federal government is currently voting on a planned new regulation, a health ministry spokeswoman said on Tuesday. Department head Jens Spahn (CDU) and Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) are pushing for a rapid expansion of testing obligations – but discussions are still ongoing. The travel industry called on holidaymakers to get vaccinated. With a view to the fall, another federal state round is due on August 10.
There is already a general obligation to test on entry for all air passengers. Evidence of a negative result must be made in the holiday country and presented before the start – or proof of a recovering or fully vaccinated person. According to the ideas of Spahn and Seehofer, a test should in principle be necessary in the future. Regardless of where and by which means of transport you come – for example by car from neighboring countries.
Seehofer told Bild newspaper (Wednesday): “We must do everything we can to prevent a fourth wave. This also means returning travelers get a negative corona test every time they enter the country.” In the case of own transport, this must be checked “in note form in the context of the veil hunt”. There will be no fixed border controls. “Of course, anyone who has been vaccinated or recovered does not need to be tested.”
The government commissioner for tourism, Thomas Bareiß (CDU), expressed his criticism: “It cannot be that with increasing incidents the discussion about necessary measures will first be conducted on the back of the travel industry and holidaymakers.” It is also incomprehensible that with increasing vaccination coverage, the focus is on tightening. He could imagine that the proof requirements could be even more complete. However, this must clearly be accompanied by simplifications, for example with quarantine rules.
Federal Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) said: “We must ensure that the infection process remains manageable.” The cabinet is working on a solution to revise the rules for returning travelers. “Even as more and more people benefit from the protection of a vaccine, we should not be lulled into a false sense of security.” Spahn had already spoken out last week in favor of extending the test requirement. First, the papers of the media group Funke reported on the subject on Tuesday.
Criticism came from the opposition. Such a comprehensive expansion of the obligation to test is neither helpful in the fight against the pandemic nor proportionate, said FDP health expert Christine Aschenberg-Dugnus. The focus should be on travelers from high-risk areas and virus variants. SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach supported mandatory testing for anyone who was not fully vaccinated or recovered. When traveling on vacation, there is a higher risk of getting infected due to the increased number of contacts – regardless of travel location and mode of transport, he told the “Editorial Network Germany” (Wednesday).
An amended entry regulation will come into effect next Wednesday. Since there was no agreement on the scheme planned by Spahn and Seehofer, the existing scheme is essentially extended until 10 September. There is a relief for those coming from areas with virus variants where troubling forms of the virus are circulating. So far, those who have recovered and who have been vaccinated and who come back there have to quarantine for 14 days. In the future, this can generally be terminated prematurely if the region is no longer classified as a virus variant region during the quarantine period.
The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) publishes on its website which regions the federal government declares as high-risk, high-incidence or virus variants with special testing and quarantine requirements. Spain and the Netherlands have been high incidence areas with a particularly high number of new infections since Tuesday. Anyone returning from such an area who has not been fully vaccinated or recovered must quarantine for ten days, but can shorten this after five days with a negative test.
The German Travel Association (DRV) and the Federal Association of the German Air Transport Industry (BDL) appealed to citizens to accept vaccination offers. “For vaccinated people, travel planning is more reliable and travel easier.” Some countries reserved certain local activities exclusively for vaccinated people.
The countries want to discuss the further Corona procedure on August 10 in a video conference with Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU). This was announced by the chairman of the Prime Minister’s Conference, Berlin Mayor Michael Müller (SPD). The next round was originally scheduled for the end of August. Müller said he would like the federal government to quickly deal with regulations for returning travelers.