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Germany extends ban on UK and South Africa arrivals until January 6th

Germany has extended its ban on people travelling from Britain, Northern Ireland and South Africa until January 6th – but German residents will be able to arrive from January 1st.

Germany extends ban on UK and South Africa arrivals until January 6th
Archive photo shows a British Airways plane at Frankfurt Airport. Photo: DPA

The ban was put in place after a new more infectious coronavirus strain appeared in the countries.

“The transport ban covers passenger traffic by train, bus, ship and flights directly from these countries,” the Health Ministry said in a statement.

“The order covers the period from December 22nd, 2020 until January 6th, 2021.”

It added that people who have valid residency permits for Germany could return from January 1st.

The ministry said that travellers who arrived from the affected countries or who spent time there in the last 10 days would be required to be tested for the coronavirus.

“Existing quarantine rules for arrivals from risk areas continue to apply,” it added.

Health Minister Jens Spahn said that “as long as it is possible”, Germany aimed to prevent “potentially dangerous virus mutations from spreading in continental Europe”.

“The entry ban from Britain, Northern Ireland and South Africa is a precautionary measure until we know more about the reported coronavirus mutations” in those countries, he said.

A string of nations around the continent on Sunday began suspending travel links with Britain to prevent the spread of the new strain of the coronavirus.

EU ambassadors were to meet Tuesday to try to thrash out a unified approach and work out how to eventually lift the border restrictions with Britain – including by imposing a requirement for tests on all arrivals.

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COVID-19 RULES

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

German health ministers say that tougher Covid restrictions should come back into force if a serious wave emerges in autumn.

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

Following a video meeting on Monday, the health ministers of Germany’s 16 states said tougher restrictions should be imposed again if they are needed. 

“The corona pandemic is not over yet – we must not be deceived by the current declining incidences,” said Saxony-Anhalt’s health minister Petra Grimm-Benne, of the Social Democrats, who currently chairs the Conference of Health Ministers (GMK).

According to the GMK, new virus variants are expected to appear in autumn and winter. Over the weekend, federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) also warned that the more dangerous Delta variant could return to Germany. “That is why the federal Ministry of Health should draw up a master plan to combat the corona pandemic as soon as possible and coordinate it with the states,” Grimm-Benne said.

Preparations should also include an amendment of the Infection Protection Act, ministers urged. They want to see the states given powers to react to the infection situation in autumn and winter. They called on the government to initiate the legislative process in a timely manner, and get the states actively involved.

The current Infection Protection Act expires on September 23rd this year. Germany has loosened much of its Covid restrictions in the last months, however, face masks are still compulsory on public transport as well as on planes. 

READ ALSO: Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

The health ministers said that from autumn onwards, it should be possible for states to make masks compulsory indoors if the regional infection situation calls for it. Previously, wearing a Covid mask was obligatory in Germany when shopping and in restaurants and bars when not sitting at a table. 

Furthermore, the so-called 3G rule for accessing some venues and facilities – where people have to present proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test – should be implemented again if needed, as well as other infection protection rules, the ministers said. 

Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek, of the CSU, welcomed the ministers’ unanimous call for a revision of the Infection Protection Act. “The states must be able to take all necessary infection protection measures quickly, effectively, and with legal certainty,” he said.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s health minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) warned that no one should “lull themselves into a false sense of security”.

“We must now prepare for the colder season and use the time to be able to answer important questions about the immunity of the population or the mechanisms of infection chains,” he said.

On Tuesday, Germany reported 86,253 Covid infections within the latest 24 hour period, as well as 215 Covid-related deaths. The 7-day incidence stood at 437.6 infections per 100,000 people. However, experts believe there could be twice as many infections because lots of cases go unreported. 

READ ALSO: Five things to know about the Covid pandemic in Germany right now

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