Wednesday, June 16

Holidaymania hits Germany as Covid travel restrictions are eased | Coronavirus


Germans are in the midst of Christmas fever following the widespread relaxation of coronavirus restrictions at home and abroad, opening up the possibility of travel again for a nation that considers summer vacations to be a basic human right. .

A sizable week-over-week improvement from May in the country’s virus incidence rate, which stood at 22 per 100,000 on Thursday, a 42% decrease from last week, a vaccine campaign that was slow to start but now It has accelerated, and relaxations of the regulations in force in holiday destinations such as Mallorca, have caused a booking boom.

The Foreign Ministry has removed the Balearic island, the favorite destination of the Germans, Italy, Croatia, the Czech Republic and Switzerland from a list of high-risk regions in recent days. They are now counted among the top destinations for hundreds of thousands of Germans planning to travel in the coming weeks now that regulations in both directions have been relaxed.

However, Denmark, France and Greece, also typical favorites, are among those that still carry a warning, although consumer experts welcomed the fact that the caution attached to them meant it would be easier for tourists to recover. your money if the trips had to be canceled.

Germans who travel require proof of a negative PCR test or rapid antigen test, or proof that they are fully vaccinated or have had coronavirus in the past six months. Those returning from an area with a variant of the virus, such as the UK, or considered high risk, such as Egypt, are still required to remain in quarantine for 10 days upon their return.

But the Foreign Ministry continues to advise against any unnecessary travel abroad and medical experts have urged caution wherever travelers go, warning that the incidence level may be lower than it has been since October, but is currently 10 times higher than it was a years ago.

Virologists say that an increase in cases at the end of the summer holidays is almost inevitable, due in part to the increased mobility and mixing in larger groups that will occur, along with a drop in temperature towards the fall. But they hope that the expectation of a vaccine for all in mid-August or September will stop a fourth runaway wave. However, the decision to let the Germans travel remains a political gamble.

Most of the countries they still remain classified as “risk areas” according to the government disease control agency, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), which has divided them into three categories: areas with virus variants, including the UK, Brazil, India, Uruguay and South Africa, among 13 countries, followed by areas of incidence ”: 24 countries, including Egypt, Chile, Argentina and Mexico, and“ simple risk areas ”, which is by far the longest list and includes Portugal, Spain, Denmark and many other destinations preferred by tourists Germans.

On Thursday, Health Minister Jens Spahn released a digital vaccine passport so that those vaccinated can show the proof in a coronavirus warning app or via a QR code on their mobile phones. He called it a new tool in the fight against coronavirus, which he hoped would “make vaccination even more attractive.” It will be valid throughout the European Union, facilitating travel. “The aim is that … in Helsinki, Amsterdam or Mallorca this digital vaccine certificate can be read,” said Spahn.

But in the same launch, Lothar Wieler, the head of the RKI, warned: “The pandemic is far from over.” He said, “Take every little opportunity that we just shouldn’t give you.” This was confirmed, he said, by deadly outbreaks that are still taking place in nursing homes in particular.

Germany’s daily death rate is around 100 per day. So far, more than 90,000 people have died from the virus.

The tabloid Bild, the country’s most popular newspaper, which claims to capture the mood of the country and often reports on the holiday as a quasi-religious act, reports on the return of the opportunity to travel with at least as much enthusiasm as it handled the advance of the vaccine. He is conducting daily rounds of question and answer sessions with consumer experts for his readers desperate for answers to their myriad questions about the dos and don’ts of traveling in the second pandemic summer.

Tourists are now rushing to book vaccines after vaccine prioritization rules were lifted in Germany last week, suddenly making them more accessible to everyone.

Within Germany, where at Easter the restrictions for tourists were much stricter than for those heading abroad to Mallorca and Greece, much to the annoyance of local hoteliers, the rules continue to differ across the country. But generally speaking, those who are vaccinated no longer need to take a test when heading to popular destinations like the North Sea islands or the Baltic coast. Those who are not vaccinated must present proof of a negative test result which in some areas needs to be repeated every three days, although that is also relaxing.

But the tests are now available, with more than 15,000 emerging centers that have opened across the country. There are even special courier bikes that ride to the person who wants to be tested.

The challenge for many is where to find accommodation, as many vacations are already booked. “Guests have told me that they would be prepared to sleep in a broom closet,” Nancy Engels, a hotelier on the island of Hiddensee in the northern state of Mecklenburg Vorpommern, told Spiegel.


www.theguardian.com

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