Germany's new COVID test requirements for travelers flying into the country came into force on Tuesday.
The rules change comes as Germany is grappling with a third wave of infections and as thousands of German tourists have flown abroad for the Easter holidays.
What are the new rules?
- Travelers will be required to take a COVID test before departure, regardless of the risk level in their country of origin.
- Airlines will only be allowed to let passengers on board with proof of a negative COVID test.
- The test must be taken no earlier than 48 hours before arrival in Germany.
- Travelers will have to pay for the tests themselves. PCR tests and approved rapid tests will be accepted.
- Airline crews are exempt, as well as children under 6.
- Those returning will be required to quarantine according to the local rules set out by Germany's 16 states.
- The testing requirements will last until at least May 12 and could be extended.
Why were the travel rules changed?
The new testing rules went into effect shortly after midnight on Tuesday, after their implementation had been postponed to allow airlines and travelers more time to prepare.
Previously, only people returning from countries designated high risk were required to present a negative test before traveling to Germany.
The move to implement new travel rules comes as thousands of German vacationers flew to the Spanish island of Mallorca in recent days. The German government lifted its travel warning for the popular destination in mid-March after the incidence rate put it in the low-risk category.
Until now, those returning from low-risk areas weren't required to quarantine or get tested upon return.
Are other travel measures on the horizon?
The German government is still reviewing whether it is possible to implement a temporary ban on foreign vacations all together.
A decision is expected to be made later this week.
What is the coronavirus situation in Germany?
Last week, Chancellor Angela Merkel and the country's 16 state leaders agreed to extend the country's lockdown into April, but quickly reversed a decision to implement a 5-day hard lockdown over Easter.
Germany is currently battling a third wave of infections — driven primarily by the highly-contagious B117 coronavirus variant that was first discovered in Britain.
On Tuesday, the seven-day incidence rate of new coronavirus infections continued to rise, up to 135 new infections per 100,000 residents. Officials agreed to implement stricter lockdown measures in areas where the rate surpasses the critical benchmark of 100, although implementation has been inconsistent.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that tests must be taken no earlier than 48 hours before departure. It is 48 hours before arrival in Germany. We regret the error.
rs/rt (dpa, AFP)