Germany ends free coronavirus testing for travellers from non-risk areas
As of Tuesday, September 15, Germany will no longer be offering free coronavirus tests to travellers returning from non-risk regions, to prevent the healthcare system from becoming overloaded.
No more free voluntary coronavirus tests in Germany
The summer holidays have now ended in all of Germany’s 16 federal states, which means it is no longer possible to get tested for coronavirus free of charge, if you are returning from a country that doesn’t appear on the Robert Koch Institute’s risk list.
The federal and state governments agreed to end free mass testing after a number of high-profile blunders raised concerns about the healthcare system’s ability to cope with the high volume of tests - and left tens of thousands of holidaymakers waiting for their results.
Numbers from the Robert Koch Institute show exactly what the laboratories have been dealing with: in the last week of July, around 580.000 coronavirus tests were processed. In recent weeks, however, triggered by the offer of free tests for all returning travellers, this number has risen to nearly 1,1 million.
RKI warned government that laboratories were overburdened
With laboratories in Germany nearly at capacity, the RKI warned at the end of August that they were in danger of becoming overloaded. Reminding the federal government that, the more tests are sent to laboratories, the longer they take to process, the RKI recommended that tests be prioritised for those who really need them.
Now, this priority is being given: in future, only people for whom there is a specific reason will be tested free of charge - for instance, if they are displaying symptoms or are particularly at risk due to their job. For the time being, travellers returning from risk areas who are obliged to take the test can get it free of charge, but the federal and state governments have indicated that they will seek to change this regulation as of October 1, replacing the free test with a mandatory quarantine.