Germany to introduce obligatory tests for travellers from COVID-19 risk areas
Responding to fears that the holiday season could spark a new surge in coronavirus infections, Germany will introduce obligatory testing for all travellers returning from coronavirus hotspots. This was announced by the Federal Minister for Health on Monday.
Coronavirus tests to be mandatory for travellers from risk areas
In the future, holidaymakers who travel to Germany from so-called coronavirus “risk countries” will have to be tested for the virus upon their return. Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn announced on Monday that testing would become mandatory, after a sudden uptick in coronavirus infection rates sparked fears of returning travellers unleashing a second wave. The measure is expected to come into effect next week.
“We must prevent travel returnees from infecting others unnoticed and thus triggering new chains of infection,” said Spahn. Speaking to public broadcaster ZDF, Spahn emphasised that the tests would be free of charge for everyone, saying that testing should “never be a cost issue for the individual.” He also emphasised that the obligation to get tested would only apply to returnees from high-risk countries - those with high infection rates.
130 countries considered “risk countries” in Germany
Around 130 countries worldwide are currently considered “risk countries” by the federal government and Germany’s public health body, the Robert Koch Institute. The central criterion is whether there have been more than 50 new coronavirus infections per 100.000 inhabitants in a certain region in the past seven days.
Since the weekend, German airports have been offering free coronavirus tests for all travellers returning from risk countries - and even those coming from non-risk countries can get a free test by paying a visit to their doctor. Anyone who receives a negative test result will not be required to go into quarantine for two weeks.
However, Spahn emphasised that even mandatory testing would not make travel risk-free. “We must continue to take care of each other,” he said. “Keep your distance, pay attention to each other, and have yourself tested if you come back from such regions, or generally from vacation.”