Germany to extend travel restriction to non-EU countries


The German government’s warning against travel to more than 160 countries around the world outside the EU is set to be extended until August 31st.

The German cabinet is expected to approve the extension of the warning put in place to stem the spread of coronavirus at a meeting on Wednesday June 10th, DPA reported.

However, the travel warning for so-called third countries outside EU states could be removed earlier for some countries that meet certain criteria such as low infection rates, an efficient health system, hygiene rules and high testing capacities.

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The German government also intends to strongly advise against cruises due to how easily the virus spread on ships at the beginning of the outbreak. 

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas took the unprecedented step of issuing a blanket warning against tourist travel worldwide because of the coronavirus pandemic on March 17th, and extended it until mid-June.

Until that point, travel warnings were only issued in the event of danger to life or limb, especially in war zones such as Syria or Afghanistan.

Travel warning to be lifted for EU countries

Last week, the cabinet decided decided to lift the travel warning for 31 European countries from June 15th onwards.

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These include Germany’s 26 partner countries in the EU, the United Kingdom, which has just left the EU, and the four countries of the border-free Schengen area that are not members of the EU: Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

For 29 countries, the ban will be lifted on June 15th; however for Spain and Norway it will take place at a slightly later date, because entry barriers still apply there.

The warning will be replaced with detailed travel advice for each individual country.

‘Death blow’ to German travel industry

The extended travel warning for popular travel destinations such as Turkey, Egypt or Tunisia will result in a severe setback for the tourism industry, which has been badly hit by the coronavirus crisis, experts warned.

Tourism policy spokesman for the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) parliamentary group, Marcel Klinge, criticised the extension of the travel warning, calling it a “death blow to the German travel industry”.

The tourism industry is, unsurprisingly, one of the sectors hit hardest in the coronavirus crisis.

Summer business with foreign travel is usually the industry’s strongest season in terms of turnover, with around 2,300 tour operators and more than 11,000 travel agencies in Germany.

According to the German Travel Association (DRV), 70 percent of more than 71 million trips taken by Germans every year involve travelling abroad.

Countries want German tourists

Popular holiday destinations like Turkey are desperate for German tourists. According to DPA, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants to phone Chancellor Angela Merkel this week to discuss this topic.

Meanwhile, Spain has partially eased the travel ban for German tourists. From Monday onwards, the Balearic Islands – the group of islands that includes Mallorca – plans to allow up to 10,900 holidaymakers from Germany to enter the country.

Germany was chosen for this pilot project for two “obvious” reasons, said the regional president of the Balearic Islands, Francina Armengol, on Tuesday June 9th.

“Germany is the country where most holidaymakers come to us from, and the epidemiological figures are very similar to ours,” Armengol said.

Spain plans to reopen its doors to foreign holidaymakers on July 1st.

Source: thelocal