Editor’s note – Coronavirus cases remain high around the world. Health officials warn that travel increases your chances of contracting and spreading the virus. Staying at home is the best way to contain transmission. Below is information on what to know if you’re still planning to travel, last updated on December 24.
(CNN) – If you are planning to travel to Germany, here is what you need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Germany’s border policies are changing rapidly as the country regularly updates its lists of high and moderate risk destinations. As cases increase with the Delta and now Omicrom variants, Germany is stepping up its vaccination campaign. But the country is also at the heart of the new European wave. In order to control the rapidly increasing number of cases, unvaccinated people will now be banned from most non-essential aspects of daily life.
What’s on offer
Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt have long been cultural hotspots. But there’s more to Germany than its stunning cities – from hiking in Bavaria to the wild forests of the French border and an extremely underrated coastline to the north. Add in excellent public transport and road links and this is a country ripe for those who enjoy long, free vacations.
Who can go
On November 26, along with other EU states, Germany imposed a temporary ban on arrivals from South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and of Eswatini until further notice. They have been designated as Areas of Variation of Concern. The UK was added to this list on December 20.
In principle, residents of EU Member States and Schengen Associated States Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland can enter Germany without restrictions, although if they become classified as high risk. or with a variant of concern, restrictions apply. Arrivals from several EU countries must now be quarantined if they are not vaccinated – see below.
What are the restrictions?
Travel for EU and Schengen Area residents is unlimited, although you must use your EU digital certificate to show proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test.
If you have been in a country designated as high risk in the past 10 days, you must provide a negative test result and you must go straight to your destination and quarantine there for 10 days. Those in a high-risk area may end the quarantine earlier if they are negative after five days. The quarantine requirement is lifted upon proof of vaccination or recovery.
If you have been in an “area of variation of concern” it is prohibited to enter by train, boat, plane or bus. Basically you have to drive and then quarantine for 14 days.
The list was last updated on December 23. There are no new variant areas of concern (since the addition of the UK on December 20), meaning there are nine in total: Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia , South Africa, Zimbabwe and United Kingdom.
There are six new high-risk areas: Cyprus, Finland, Monaco, Portugal (including the Azores and Madeira), Spain (including the Balearic and Canary Islands) and the United States.
Austria, Belize, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Malaysia and Serbia have been deleted.
If they are not vaccinated, only those traveling for essential reasons can enter. Unvaccinated children under the age of 12 can enter if they are traveling with a vaccinated parent.
What is the situation of the Covid?
After peaks in winter 2020 and spring 2021, Germany saw the number of cases drop dramatically as it stepped up its vaccination program. However, the Delta variant placed it at the heart of the new European wave. On November 8, authorities announced that infection rates were at an all time high, with 201 infections per 100,000 people in the previous seven days, more than the previous record of 197.6 in December 2020. 16 November, this figure had risen to 312 infections per 100,000 people.
The week leading up to November 17 saw 287,364 positive cases, breaking the previous week’s high of 263,779. The week leading up to November 27 broke previous records, with 403,452 new infections. However, it appears that the number of cases is leveling off, with more than 364,000 cases recorded in the week to December 9, 299,122 in the week to December 17, and 236,743 through December 24.
The government has offered booster shots to all adults in an attempt to flatten the tide. The week leading up to December 17 saw a record 6.6 million vaccines administered. More than 70% of the population is now doubly vaccinated, according to the government.
What can visitors expect
On December 2, the government announced that unvaccinated people would be banned from restaurants and bars, cinemas, gyms, non-essential stores and Christmas markets.
Christmas Day gatherings around the country will be reduced from 10 people to just five in two different households. People have to work from home unless they cannot do their job otherwise, in which case they go through rigorous testing procedures.
In North Rhine-Westphalia, unvaccinated citizens are banned from all non-essential shopping and events, including Christmas markets and sports matches.