Traveling to Germany during Covid-19: what you need to know before you go

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.

The basics

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.

Arrivals from other countries depend on the epidemiological situation and vaccination status. Since December 24, tourists are allowed without restrictions from 19 destinations outside the EU: Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Kuwait, Macao, New Zealand, Peru, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates and Uruguay. See here for a full list.
Arrivals from countries not on this list, other than those subject to a temporary travel ban, are allowed if they are fully vaccinated – see here.
However, special measures are in place when traveling from countries deemed to be high risk or with variants of concern – see here for a list. Whether or not you should quarantine depends on the level of risk – see below.

What are the restrictions?

All arrivals must complete a digital registration form prior to travel. Those entering by air must provide either a negative PCR test performed within 48 hours of travel or full proof of vaccination.

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.

This leaves around 90 high risk areas. The current list, last compiled on December 23, is here.
Anyone entering from countries not on the “safe list” must be fully vaccinated with Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson, with the last dose given at least 14 days before travel – see here for requirements .

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.

As of December 24, there had been 110,124 deaths and just under 7 million cases to date. It is the worst epidemic to date in the country. Some patients are being treated in Italy while hospitals are under pressure in Germany.

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.

Otherwise, restrictions across the country vary between the 16 states. You can find links to individual state regulations on this government page, as the restrictions are tightening with the increase in infections.
In Saxony, only people who can prove that they have been vaccinated or have recovered from Covid can enter non-essential stores. And in Berlin, unvaccinated people are banned from restaurants, bars, cinemas and other places of entertainment. Christmas markets continue but visitors need to get vaccinated or recover from Covid.

In North Rhine-Westphalia, unvaccinated citizens are banned from all non-essential shopping and events, including Christmas markets and sports matches.

A number of states, including Hamburg and Brandenburg, allow companies to ban entry to unvaccinated people.

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