Germany names new virus risk areas in Europe

Due to the high number of coronavirus infections, the German government on Wednesday classified individual regions in 11 European countries including all of Belgium, Iceland, Wales and Northern Ireland as high-risk areas, dpa reported.

Meanwhile, it also lifted a blanket travel warning in place during the coronavirus pandemic for a total of 160 countries outside the EU. Each country in the world will now be assessed individually.

With Wales and Northern Ireland, Germany's disease control body, the Robert Koch Institue (RKI), included Britain in its health warnings for the first time in the pandemic. The French regions Pays de la Loire and Burgundy were also named.

For the first time, areas in the Baltic countries of Lithuania and Estonia were also named. Regions in Ireland, Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary and Romania were also added.

The Foreign Office published a travel warning for Belgium, Romania and Lithuania online late Wednesday.

The classification as a risk area and the subsequent travel warning are issued if the number of new coronavirus infections exceeds the mark of 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days.

The travel warning is not a ban, but is intended to have a significant deterrent effect, especially for tourists. However, it also has a positive side for consumers: it enables vacationers to cancel bookings for free.

With the new decisions of Berlin's federal government, 17 out of 27 EU countries are now at least partially deemed coronavirus risk areas, including all of Belgium, Spain, the Czech Republic and Luxembourg. Iceland does not belong to the European Union but to the Schengen area that is free of border controls.

Poland is the only one of Germany's nine neighbouring countries that is not yet on the risk list. But the number of infections is also increasing there. Among the nine EU countries without a coronavirus risk area, the popular holiday countries are Italy, Greece, Malta and Cyprus.

But there is also good news: the status as a risk area has been revoked for Freiburg (Friborg) in Switzerland and for the Croatian holiday destinations Zadar and Sibenik-Knin.

Outside the EU, a travel warning is only in place for those countries that have exceeded the limit of 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the past seven days. This currently applies to more than 130 countries in full or in part.Travel is not recommended for around 50 other countries due to entry restrictions or an exit ban in the EU.

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