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Germany puts three Spanish regions on high-risk list

July 31, 2020

Holidaymakers returning from Catalonia, home to Barcelona, will have to present a negative coronavirus test or go into quarantine upon arriving in Germany. It's one of three Spanish regions newly designated high risk.

People on a beach in Barcelona
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/XinHua/City Hall of Barcelona

Germany's disease control agency on Friday added Catalonia, Navarre and Aragon to a list of places considered "high risk" for the novel coronavirus.

The change means people returning from the three regions in northeastern Spain, including popular holiday spots Barcelona and the Costa Brava, face the prospect of a 14-day quarantine. Coronavirus tests will be mandatory for all arrivals from high-risk areas from next week.

The summer tourist season has seen a recent surge in infections in Europe — for example, in France, Spain and Luxembourg — and there are concerns returnees to Germany could trigger a second coronavirus wave.

Read moreNew blow to Spain's tourism sector from German, UK travel bans

According to Germany's Robert Koch Institute, the country's agent for disease control and prevention, a place is designated high risk if it reports more than 50 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last seven days. Luxembourg is currently the only EU country on the high-risk list.

Anyone returning from a high-risk area must go into self-isolation for two weeks or be able to show a negative coronavirus test no more than 48 hours old, the German Health Ministry said on its website. Coronavirus tests for those arriving from high-risk areas will be mandatory from next week and will be free of charge, according to the government.

In a blow to Spain's tourism industry, the UK last week reimposed a 14-day quarantine for people arriving from the Mediterranean country — a hugely popular holiday destination for Britons.

Germany's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday updated its travel advice for Spain, urging Germans to avoid nonessential trips to Catalonia, Aragon and Navarre. The decision sparked an outcry from Spanish leaders.

Germany reported 870 new cases on Friday, bringing its total tally to 208,698. Health authorities have managed to keep the number of fatalities relatively low, with 9,141 deaths recorded so far.

Coronavirus overshadows the tourism sector

nm/sms (Reuters, AFP, dpa)