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‘Everyone was panicking’: Brits stranded in UK fear being unable to return to Germany

Britons stranded in the UK have spoken of their confusion and panic after a travel ban means they are currently unable to get back to their home in Germany.

'Everyone was panicking': Brits stranded in UK fear being unable to return to Germany
A Christmas tree in Cologne Airport. Photo: DPA

Many Brits are now effectively stranded in the UK after Germany issued a transport ban from December 22nd until January 6th.

That decision may be reviewed after the EU recommended ending the blanket ban.

The German Health Ministry said British nationals who “have valid residency permits” are allowed to return to the country from January 1st.

They have to be tested for coronavirus and undertake quarantine, as do others who come from an area classified by Germany as a 'risk zone'.

READ ALSO: Germany extends ban on UK and South Africa arrivals to January 6th

The EU has made it clear that residents in the EU who are stranded in the UK should be allowed to return home.

However, many Brits who travelled to the UK to spend Christmas with their families say they are worried about getting back into the country.

That's because the Brexit transition period ends on December 31st – and most Brits do not have their residency documents yet so may find it more difficult to prove they are German residents.

British and German authorities have previously advised Britons travelling after December 31st to bring with them proof of residency in Germany, such as an Anmeldung registration document or rental contract.

'Really stressful'

Freelance writer Abby Young-Powell travelled to the UK earlier in December and is self-isolating in Wales before visiting family for Christmas.

The 32-year-old helped set up a group so that others in a similar situation could communicate and talk to each other.

She said watching Sunday's events while in quarantine as countries began banning UK flights was an “anxiety inducing moment”.

“It was really, really stressful,” she added.

“Germany was one of the last countries to say something, but I knew it was going that way. I was in tears most of the day.

“I didn't really see anyone talking about it in terms of what it means for residents. It felt really lonely as well. I didn’t sleep at all that night because I was so stressed.”

Young-Powell worried she would be stuck in the UK for months, even though her life is in Berlin. The next day she tried to find more answers and talked to others.

That's when those affected decided to start a messaging group.

“Everyone is in difficult situations,” said Young-Powell. “Everyone was super stressed, everyone was panicking.

“I saw people saying they needed to get back to care for people, people who needed to get back for starting work, people who were saying they needed to get back because they didn’t have accommodation.”

Brexit complication

They have been discussing issues such as how to get coronavirus tests, and on the documents they need to get into Germany. Young-Powell was due to travel back to Berlin on December 28th – before the end of the Brexit transition period.

“From January 1st because of Brexit, we need to prove we are residents,” Young-Powell said.

“I’m now trying to get documents in order. I have my Anmeldung on my phone and I'm seeing what else I can gather.

“Now the next thing is figuring out the way back and figuring out the tests.  I really hope we can all get back okay.”

Berlin resident Rohit Kakar, is also in quarantine before he visits his family in the East Midlands area.

However, the 32-year-old who works for an NGO, said it had been stressful to find out about the new coronavirus strain and travel ban when he arrived in the UK.

“I’m happy I get to spend some time with my family here,” he said. “But I think it’s not knowing what might happen. The fear of what might happen (with the flight ban) and lack of information.”

Kakar has dual British and German citizenship so he can prove he's a German resident. He added that the group had been “really helpful”.

READ ALSO: How to prove you're a resident in Germany

 

Promised a voucher

Some Brits have been affected by the ban in the other direction.

David Lewis in Frankfurt said he was planning to fly to UK for six days  on December 22nd to visit his mum in UK.

After his flight was cancelled he said he was offered a flight voucher so he was “generally very happy with the response”.

Lewis was also offered a refund on a train ticket in the UK so felt happy with this response, too.

However, he said his mum will “now unfortunately spend Christmas day on her own.

“But sadly there's no other way to travel,” he added.

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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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