Germany to require coronavirus tests for travellers from high-risk countries

Health Minister Jens Spahn

Starting this weekend, Germany will require people arriving from countries deemed high risk, such as the US, to take coronavirus tests, the health minister said on Thursday, as the country recorded its highest daily tally of infections in three months.

German national disease control center, the Robert Koch Institute, said 1,045 cases were recorded on Wednesday, the first time since 7 May that it has counted more than 1,000 new cases in a day. Daily figures can be volatile or distorted by delays in reporting, and the number is still far short of the peak of more than 6,000 reached in early April.

“What we are seeing is a lot of small outbreaks,” Health Minister Jens Spahn told reporters. “People are getting infected at family parties, at their place of work or at community facilities.”On top of that, school holidays, the dates of which are staggered across Germany’s 16 states are ending in some regions, increasing concerns that vacationers could bring home the virus.Last Saturday, the government started offering free tests for people returning to the country, a move that Spahn said likely contributed to the increase in recorded cases. The rate of travellers testing positive is up to twice as high as the average for tests in Germany, he said.

People entering from countries deemed high-risk, currently most of the world outside the Europe Union, as well as Luxembourg, parts of northern Spain and the Belgian city of Antwerp, are already required to quarantine for 14 days unless they can present a negative test result no more than two days old. Spahn said that, starting Saturday, people arriving from those countries will also be required to take a test unless they bring a new test result with them.

“I am very well aware that this impinges on individual freedoms, but I believe that this is a justifiable intervention,” Spahn said. Travelers who refuse tests could face fines of up to €25,000 ($29,600), but the exact amount is up to local authorities, Spahn said. He suggested airline travellers from outside the EU should provide a recent test before they are allowed to board a plane to the 27-nation bloc, an idea that would need approval by all EU member states.



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