Explained: Germany's new "two-test strategy" for travellers from risk areas

Explained: Germany's new "two-test strategy" for travellers from risk areas

Explained: Germany's new "two-test strategy" for travellers from risk areas

As well as opting to extend the coronavirus lockdown until the end of January, the federal and state governments this week adopted new rules for travellers returning from international risk areas. In future, the “two-test strategy” will apply, as well as a mandatory quarantine lasting at least five days. Here’s an overview of what’s changing. 

New entry rules for Germany: Compulsory testing and quarantine

An old rule is coming back into effect: Angela Merkel and the heads of the federal states have agreed that all travellers from risk areas abroad should once again be tested for COVID-19 upon their arrival in Germany. 

Since the beginning of November, travellers from coronavirus risk areas (as designated by the Robert Koch Institute) have been required to go into quarantine upon arrival in Germany. This quarantine initially lasts 10 days, but it can be shortened after five days with a negative coronavirus test. Since mid-December, travellers have been asked to pay for this test themselves.

Before this quarantine requirement was introduced, Germany had been pursuing a policy of mandatory testing for all arrivals from risk areas. This meant that travellers had to get themselves tested for coronavirus within 48 hours of arrival. The policy was ultimately scrapped in November due to concerns about the tests failing to detect infections picked up directly before departure or en route to Germany.

What is the “two-test strategy”?

These two different strategies will now be combined in the “two test strategy”. This means that, from January 11 onwards, anyone travelling to Germany from a coronavirus risk area must get themselves tested upon entry. The test can be done 48 hours before or immediately after their arrival in Germany. 

All travellers must then also go into mandatory quarantine - which can be ended on the fifth day at the earliest with another negative coronavirus test. So think of it as the “test-quarantine-test” strategy.

Currently, the only exception to this is in North Rhine-Westphalia, where arrivals can choose between a 10-day quarantine, or undergoing a corona test 48 hours before or immediately after their entry. A rapid coronavirus test is deemed sufficient.

All arrivals must still complete a digital registration before entering Germany. This can be done via an online portal

Travel should be avoided “without good reason”

The federal government also plans to issue special rules on the obligation to test those returning from so-called “special risk areas” where new strains of coronavirus have been detected in high numbers. This means that passengers travelling from countries like the UK.

With the new testing requirement, the federal and state governments want to emphasise once again that travel to risk areas - which currently includes almost all of Germany’s neighbouring countries - should be avoided “without good reason.”



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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