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Several German states introduce internal travel restrictions

Several German states introduce internal travel restrictions

Several German states introduce internal travel restrictions

The states of Schleswig-Holstein and Rhineland-Palatinate have introduced quarantine regulations for travellers arriving from coronavirus risk areas within Germany, in a move slammed as unhelpful and confusing by other state leaders. Travel regulations now differ widely across the country. 

Two German states impose quarantine requirement

With the October school holidays starting this week in some federal states, the rising number of coronavirus infections in certain parts of Germany are causing increasing concern among leaders - but the reaction has been far from uniform. 

Schleswig-Holstein announced on Monday afternoon that people who have previously been in a coronavirus risk area in Germany will have to go into a 14-day quarantine if they enter the state. This can only be ended if they receive two negative coronavirus tests within five days. Rhineland-Palatinate passed a similar regulation later in the day.

Currently, the Robert Koch Institute identifies the cities of Hamm and Remscheid in North Rhine-Westphalia and the Vechta district in Lower Saxony as risk areas - regions where there have been more than 50 new coronavirus infections per 100.000 inhabitants within the past seven days. The Berlin districts of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, Mitte, Neukölln and Tempelhof-Schöneberg are also on the RKI’s list. 

But this is where it gets confusing. Both Schleswig-Holstein and Rhineland-Palatinate have followed the RKI’s classification and imposed a quarantine requirement on travellers arriving from these municipalities and Berlin districts. Other federal states, however, like Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, view Berlin as a whole - and, overall, the city is still below the crucial 50 per 100.000 infections. And still other states - including Hesse, Hamburg, Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Saxony-Anhalt, Saxony and Saarland - have no plans to impose quarantine restrictions on any domestic travellers. 

Politicians slam move as unhelpful and confusing

Politicians from various parties have reacted to the quarantine regulations with incomprehension and criticism. “Domestic travel restrictions are the wrong signal and are not helpful,” said Bodo Ramelow, State Premier of Thuringia. Politicians from both the SPD and the CDU parties have complained that the states’ different approaches create a confusing patchwork of regulations. 

Thuringian Interior Minister Georg Maier further criticised the new measures as impractical: “It is a mystery to me how this regulation is to be implemented,” he said. “Should we now conduct random checks between the federal states?”

Bundestag Vice-President Thomas Oppermann also spoke out in favour of precise, transparent rules. “The fact that some federal states such as Schleswig-Holstein and Rhineland-Palatinate have issued strict quarantine rules for travellers from individual municipalities causes a lot of confusion. For travel within Germany, we need a nationwide uniform regulation that all federal states agree on,” he said. “A relapse into small states only creates uncertainty and endangers the acceptance of the corona rules.” 

Abi

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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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