The federal government has declared the whole of belgium, iceland and individual regions in nine other european countries to be corona risk areas because of rising infection rates.
The robert koch institute updated its risk list on thursday night, which for the first time includes areas of great britain such as wales and northern ireland.
In france, the regions pays de la loire and burgundy (bourgogne) were added. This means that in germany’s closest neighbor, only the grand est border region, which was once particularly badly affected by the pandemic, is now exempt from classification as a risk area.
In belgium, only the capital city of brussel had recently been listed as a risk area. The expansion to the entire country now also affects border regions with north rhine-westphalia and rhineland-palatinate. For the first time, the federal government included areas in the two baltic states of lithuania and estonia on the risk list. Regions in ireland, croatia, slovenia, hungary and romania were also added.
For all new risk areas in europe, the foreign office issued travel warnings for tourists in the night to thursday. Although they are not a travel ban, they are intended to have as much of a deterrent effect on tourists as possible. The good news for holidaymakers: they can cancel a trip they have already booked if their destination is declared a risk area. The bad: returnees from risk areas must get tested and stay in quarantine until results are in. From 15. October test to take place five days after return at the earliest. This can then mean a total of just under a week’s quarantine.
In the belgian region bordering germany, the federal government’s decision was therefore met with incomprehension. "Everyday european life here in the border region has been massively restricted," oliver paasch, minister president of the german-speaking community, told dpa. The "european self-reliance" has been narrowed down. One feels transported back to the "unfortunate time" between march and mid-june.
For commuters, but also for private short visits, for example for shopping, exceptions from the quarantine are foreseen. "There will be uniform rules throughout germany for entering and leaving risk areas," emphasized rhineland-palatinate’s minister president malu dreyer (SPD) on thursday. This is provided for in the new federal decree on quarantine regulations.
Almost simultaneously with the new travel warnings in europe, the blanket travel warning for more than 160 countries outside the european union and the border control-free schengen area was lifted. This means that every country in the world will now be assessed individually. Those who believe that this will make long-distance travel much easier again are mistaken – for vacationers, little will change.
There are three categories of countries:
– TRAVEL WARNING: now only issued for countries that exceed the threshold of 50 new infections per 100,000 population in the past seven days. This currently applies to 123 countries in full and 15 in part.
– "TRAVEL WARNING LIGHT": travel is advised against for about 50 other countries, regardless of the infection situation. The reason: there are still entry restrictions or a ban on leaving the country for the eu. This group of countries includes, for example, the popular winter holiday destination of thailand, where there are hardly any corona infections, but foreign tourists also have to stay indoors.
– NO WARNING: the bottom line is that there are not many countries left for which there are neither warnings nor advisories against travel – especially since new travel warnings are being issued every few days in europe. In the EU, for example, only nine of germany’s 26 partner countries are now completely free of risk areas and travel warnings.
At least a few popular vacation destinations are included: italy, greece, cyprus and malta. Outside europe, only georgia and tunisia are at risk. In addition, for several weeks there has been an exemption for the turkish vacation areas on the mediterranean sea.
The global blanket travel warning due to the corona pandemic was issued on 17 january. March by federal minister heiko maas (SPD) after numerous borders had been closed and flights cut, leaving tens of thousands of germans stranded abroad. Already on 15. June the regulation had been lifted again for most european countries. Now it disappears altogether.
The travel industry welcomes the move in principle, but criticizes the fact that nothing has actually changed for vacationers. "What remains is a gross uncertainty among all involved about what is possible and what is not possible. This is threatening the very existence of our economy," said norbert fiebig, president of the german travel association (DRV). "The travel industry is without goods, because for the winter there is hardly anything to sell at the moment. And already the sales are only a quarter of the previous year’s sales. No improvement in sight."
Fiebig called for travel advisories to be more detailed and also differentiated within individual regions. "To warn against travel to all canary islands when only one of the seven islands exceeds the critical limit is (…) in no way appropriate or mabful, but on the contrary absurd."
Despite all the bad news about rising infection rates and new travel warnings, there is also good news: for freiburg (fribourg) in switzerland and the croatian vacation destinations zadar and sibenik-knin, the status as risk areas was lifted in the night to thursday.