Update: Travelling within Germany and abroad: What is allowed?
Update: Travelling within Germany and abroad: What is allowed?
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has resulted in unprecedented travel restrictions across Germany, Europe and the entire world, which are only just beginning to be lifted. With coronavirus measures easing and borders reopening, the first trips within and beyond Germany should be possible within the next few months. Here’s an overview of the situation as it currently stands.
Travelling within Germany
With the federal government’s worldwide travel warning in place until at least June 14, in general, people are still being urged to stay put as much as possible. Social distancing requirements (including the 1,5-metre rule) are in place across the whole country until at least June 5.
However, there is a spot of hope on the horizon: control over the reopening of tourism and hospitality businesses like hotels and restaurants has, as of May 6, been returned to the individual states - and the first ones will be permitting tourists to enter as soon as May 15.
You can find a detailed breakdown of what is opening when in this article, but here is a brief overview of what each state is planning:
- Baden-Württemberg: Holiday homes and campsites open from May 18; hotels, visitor centres and leisure parks open from May 29
- Bavaria: Hotels, holiday homes and campsites open from May 30, as well as tourist offerings like castles
- Berlin: Tourist overnight stays allowed from May 25, along with city and guided tours
- Brandenburg: Permanent camping allowed from May 15; all other tourist rentals permitted from May 25, including tours, boat trips and leisure facilities
- Bremen: Hotels, holiday homes and campsites open from May 18, subject to conditions
- Hamburg: Hotels, holiday homes and campsites already open (with restrictions)
- Hesse: Hotels, holiday homes and campsites to open from May 15
- Lower Saxony: Holiday homes and campsites already open; hotels and youth hostels to open on May 25 (limited capacity)
- Mecklenburg-Vorpommern: Overnight stays permitted for Mecklenburg-Vorpommern residents (primary or secondary) from May 18; tourist overnight stays permitted from May 25
- North Rhine-Westphalia: Holiday homes, campsites and amusement parks already open; hotels and youth hostels to open on May 18
- Rhineland-Palatinate: All tourist overnight stays permitted from May 18
- Saarland: All tourist overnight stays permitted from May 18 (limited capacity)
- Saxony: Overnight stays already permitted in second homes; all tourist overnight stays permitted from May 15
- Saxony-Anhalt: Hotels (May 22), holiday homes (May 15) and campsites (May 15) opening initially for Saxony-Anhalt residents only; tourists from other states should follow soon after
- Schleswig-Holstein: All tourist overnight stays permitted from May 18
- Thuringia: Hotels, holiday homes and campsites expected to open on May 15
Travelling abroad - within Europe
As mentioned above, the government's worldwide travel warning will remain in place until June 14, but beyond this date, there are signs that things will begin to open up for holidayers.
Germany has begun the process of removing border controls with its neighbouring countries - starting with Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria and France - while the European Commission is pushing for all internal borders to be removed to permit travel between member states with similar health situations.
Travelling this summer to more far-flung destinations like the United States doesn’t look very realistic at the moment, but a number of countries in Europe are already gearing themselves up for the summer season. Here’s a quick overview of what’s happening in some of Germany’s favourite holiday destinations:
Austria is expecting foreign tourists before the summer even starts, having already moved to open the German-Austrian border. From May 15, all restaurants, bars and cafes will be open for business under strict conditions, and hotels, tourist businesses, sights and attractions should reopen on May 29.
Croatia is hoping for a relatively normal summer season this year, albeit to a lesser extent - offerings will open gradually, starting with campsites, then private rooms and holiday homes. Police will maintain a presence on the beaches to ensure minimum distance requirements are adhered to. There is still currently an entry ban for foreign citizens, but the country is negotiating with Austria, Slovenia and Czechia to allow entry by car. This would include the opening of motorway corridors to allow German vacationers to arrive.
Normality is slowly beginning to return in Denmark, Germany’s northern neighbour, where shops and restaurants are starting to reopen. However, the borders remain closed for the time being. The government is expected to reassess the situation on June 1.
France relaxed its strict coronavirus restrictions on May 11, but people’s freedom of movement remains severely limited. Residents are allowed to leave their homes with a pass, but they must not travel more than 100 kilometres. Travel restrictions at the borders with Schengen countries and the UK should be removed by June 15, but the border with non-EU countries remains closed until further notice.
Normality is only slowly returning to one of Europe’s hardest-hit nations. Restaurants and bars should be allowed to accept guests from June 1, but the situation with tourism is still very uncertain. Entry into Italy for touristic purposes is still prohibited; however, the autonomous province of South Tyrol wants to open tourist accommodation and leisure pursuits from May 25; other regions are pushing to lift beach closures.
Things are a long way from normal in Spain, one of Germany’s favourite holiday destinations. The state of emergency has been extended to May 24, meaning that you are still only allowed out in public alone, to go shopping, to visit the doctor or hospital, or to support those in need. There is a little more freedom on the Canary Islands, where hotels are due to open again in the summer, but initially only for locals. It looks as if tourists won’t be able to enter until September.
The Netherlands is one of the few countries to present a concrete plan for holidaymakers: Tourists are allowed to travel to the Netherlands from July 1, when all campsites and holiday parks will be fully open. Since there was never a ban on entry, tourists can already rent accommodation.
You can find more detailed information, along with a selection of Frequently Asked Questions, on the federal government’s website (in German).