After long lockdown months, the desire to travel is returning in large parts of Europe. As COVID-19 infections have declined, strict entry restrictions have also been eased in recent weeks. This applies above all to the European Union and the Schengen area. Travelers here can look forward to a vacation in a neighboring country, for example, without any major hurdles.
If you want toenter Germany, though, you still have to take a few things into account. First, you should make sure whether the country you are entering from is classified by Germany as a risk area, If this is the case, a digital entry declaration has to be filled out. In addition, travelers must present a negative coronavirus test if they have not yet been vaccinated against Covid-19 or have not recovered from an infection in the past six months. Holidaymakers do not then have to undergo quarantine.
On July 1, the EU-wide digital vaccination passport was introduced. It makes it easier to enter Germany and gain access to events, for example. This makes retrieving information on status of vaccinations, tests and past infections quick and easy.
As of July 1, the digital vaccination certificate is making travel in Europe easier
Changes to the travel warning
Also on July 1, travel warnings for low-risk areas (seven-day incidence above 50) were also lifted. That means that the German Foreign Ministry no longer issues explicit warnings against travel to over 80 countries worldwide but instead has appealed for people to exercise ” extra caution”. Holidaymakers and returning travelers are no longer be required to register for entry or undergo testing — unless they arrive by plane (see below).
A travel warning now applies only to countries with an incidence of 200 and for areas in which dangerous virus variants have widely spread. This currently includes 16 of a total of around 200 countries worldwide. Only the United Kingdom and Portugal, as well as Russia, are currently still classified as virus-variant areas. There are no longer any high-incidence areas in Europe.
This measure has very practical consequences for vacationers: During the pandemic, the travel warning primarily enabled vacationers to cancel bookings free of charge. This option is now no longer available. The situation is different for travel insurers. They did not have to pay any compensation because the travel warning generally advised against tourist vacations. Now, however, because only ” extra caution” is advised, insurance companies must compensate holidaymakers who fall ill with COVID-19 abroad or are stranded there due to quarantine protection measures.
Most EU countries are currently no longer subject to entry restrictions, as they no longer fall into the group of risk areas due to low infection rates. Anyone entering Germany from these countries by land does not need to be vaccinated, recovered or tested. However, anyone who wants to enter Germany by air must provide proof before departure that they have been vaccinated, have fully recovered from an infection or have tested negative — regardless of the country they come from and the incidence level there. The regulation also applies to travelers returning home.
Tourists are coming to Germany again, but there are still many rules to consider
Concern over the spread of the delta variant
German politicians are currently concerned about the rapid spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus. It is considered highly contagious. Therefore, travel from areas where the delta variant is prevalent should be prevented as far as possible. Currently, Portugal, for example, is considered such a virus-variant area. The German government has therefore issued an extensive travel ban for the country. In concrete terms, this means that only German citizens and non-German residents of Germany are allowed to travel to Germany from Portugal by bus, train or plane. They must then isolate themselves for 14 days, even if they have already been vaccinated or have recovered from the virus. The quarantine cannot be ended early by taking a test. The same applies to the UK and Russia, where coronavirus infections are on the rise again due to the delta variant. Those entering from a high-incidence area (seven-day incidence of more than 200) must also enter quarantine but may be released after the fifth day if they test negative.
Lockdown instead of an easing of restrictions: In Lisbon, the city is sealed off on weekends because of the delta variant
Those who have fully recovered from an infection and those vaccinated are exempt from quarantine.
Entry for tourists from third countries possible again
Tourist travel within the EU has been possible under certain conditions for some time, but vacationers from non-EU countries have not been allowed to travel to Germany. But that is gradually changing. On June 25, the German government lifted the entry ban for third countries. However, the regulation applies only to those who have been fully vaccinated. Vaccines not approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) will not be accepted. No entry restrictions apply to travelers from 15 third countries, including Israel, Thailand, Australia and the US.
For German travelers, however, this does not mean that they are now allowed to enter third countries, not even those for which there are no entry restrictions in Germany. The US, for example, does not allow German tourists into the country.
German tourism sector caught between relief and concern
The fact that far-reaching entry restrictions have now been eased for EU countries and also for third countries is good news for the German tourism industry. In recent months, it has been one of the sectors hardest hit by the lockdown.
The German tourism sector was missing US tourists in particular. After guests from the Netherlands and Switzerland, they represented the third-largest group of visitors to Germany before the coronavirus pandemic. The western university city of Heidelberg was especially popular with Americans. Here, they accounted for the largest share of foreign tourists.
It’s still very quiet in Heidelberg:There is a lack of international tourists in the city
However, Mathias Schiemer, managing director of Heidelberg Marketing, says that the easing of entry for third-country nationals is not yet noticeable. “This primarily affects hotels that specialize in international guests,” Schirmer said in an interview with DW. However, he added, the city had been focusing more on domestic tourism for some years. “This is now paying off. It’s nice to see that the city is alive and vibrant again,” Schiemer said.
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, many Germans are again preferring to travel within their own country this summer. In many places, hotels and holiday homes are already fully booked, especially in the coastal regions and in southern Germany.
Tourists at the Baltic Sea: The pandemic has caused many Germans to spend their vacations at home
But the spread of the delta variant is dampening hopes — especially for those returning from their travels. Many Portugal vacationers have cut short their trip or canceled it early due to the classification of their destination as a virus variant area. Big travel companies such as Tui and DER Touristik have suspended their Portugal trips at short notice. Many politicians are now calling for stricter entry restrictions, such as mandatory testing, especially for returning travelers. The German government rejected stricter measures on June 28, 2021. The German Travel Association (DRV) is also warning against new restrictions, as they could unsettle vacationers. Nevertheless, there will probably not be the carefree summer of travel that many were hoping for just a few weeks ago.
This article has been translated from German.