Explained: Germany's new travel ban for high-risk countries with COVID mutations

Explained: Germany's new travel ban for high-risk countries with COVID mutations

Explained: Germany's new travel ban for high-risk countries with COVID mutations

Germany opted on Friday to impose an entry ban on travellers from the UK, Ireland, South Africa, Brazil and Portugal. Here’s an overview of what the new rule means. 

Germany’s new travel ban: Which countries are affected?

The German Interior Ministry announced on Friday that it would impose a transportation ban on all planes, trains, buses and ships from the UK, Ireland, South Africa, Brazil and Portugal, citing concerns about the more contagious variants of COVID-19 spreading in these countries. 

“The dynamics of the spread of the variants is particularly worrying in these states,” the new Coronavirus Protection Ordinance states. “The UK government estimates that the variant is up to 70 percent more transmissible and has a 0,4 point higher reproduction rate (R) compared to the previously known variant of SARS-CoV-2.” 

The entry ban will be in force from January 30 until February 17, and applies on top of the current test and quarantine rules (see below). As of Sunday, January 31, it also applies to the small African states of Lesotho and Estwani. 

The transport ban is to be implemented by airlines, bus companies and train operators, and the federal police will be monitoring to ensure compliance. 

Are there any exceptions?

The travel ban will not apply to German citizens and foreign residents who currently live in Germany (the latter can be proven with, for example, a registration certificate). Freight workers, diplomats and transit passengers passing through Germany to another destination are also exempt. The German airline reportedly pushed for this exception to allow passengers to continue to travel via their hubs at airports in Frankfurt and Munich

Flights will also be permitted in the case of (medical) emergencies, as well as to transport crew members of aircraft and ships.

What are the current rules for travelling to Germany?

The German government still recommends that all unnecessary trips to coronavirus risk areas and especially so-called “virus variant areas” should be avoided. Around 160 countries worldwide are now included in one of the coronavirus risk categories. You can find out more on the Robert Koch Institute’s website

If you travel to a country included in the lowest risk category - so-called “risk areas” - you must undergo a mandatory coronavirus test at the latest 48 hours after entering Germany. You must also quarantine for 10 days, although you can be released from this after five days by a second negative test. 

If you travel to one of the countries in the two higher risk categories - so-called “areas of variant of concern” and “high incidence areas” - you will not be allowed to enter Germany without a negative test result. Without a negative test, airlines, buses, trains and ferries are not allowed to transport passengers. You must then also self-isolate for 10 days, which can be ended by another negative test on the fifth day, at the earliest. 

All travellers who have been to a risk area at any point in the 10 days before coming to Germany must also submit an electronic entry registration form.



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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