Germany to remove all countries from virus variant travel risk list
The German government has announced that it will relax its strict travel rules for passengers arriving from countries where Omicron is spreading widely. Nine countries will no longer be considered virus variant areas as of Tuesday, January 4, and will instead be downgraded to high risk areas.
UK and southern African countries no longer consider virus variant areas
Reflecting the fact that the Omicron strain of COVID-19 is now spreading rapidly in Germany, other countries that have been badly hit by the variant will no longer be considered virus variant areas. The move affects a number of southern African nations and the UK.
The downgrading of the UK, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe means that anyone can travel from these countries to Germany, as long as they follow the relevant quarantine and testing rules. Previously, travel was only permitted to German residents and those with German citizenship.
It also means that anyone currently in quarantine after travelling to Germany from one of these countries will be allowed to leave self-isolation on Tuesday, so long as they are fully vaccinated against coronavirus. Unvaccinated people will need to take a negative test (on the fifth day after arriving in Germany at the earliest) to leave quarantine early.
No more countries on Germany’s virus variant list
For the time being, there are now no countries around the world considered so-called virus variant areas - a travel category created by Germany in an effort to prevent the spread of new coronavirus strains in the federal republic.
Only citizens and residents are permitted to travel to Germany from a virus variant area, and must go into a 14-day mandatory quarantine upon arrival, regardless of whether they are vaccinated or tested or not.
Arrivals from high risk countries, meanwhile, need only proof of a negative test, vaccination or recovery to enter Germany. Fully vaccinated and recovered people do not need to quarantine, and unvaccinated people can end their quarantine on the fifth day after entry with a negative test result.
Over the turn of the year, Germany also made a few other changes to its travel risk list, upgrading Italy, Canada, San Marino and Malta to high-risk countries as of January 1. Spain, Portugal and the USA were also added to the risk list on Christmas Day, while Austria was removed.