Germany is poised to introduce new Covid-19 testing rules for all non-vaccinated travellers from Sunday after imposing quarantine restrictions on arrivals from Spain and the Netherlands this week.
The toughened border restrictions in Germany, planned from August 1, come in response to a rapid rise in infections caused by the Delta variant of the virus.
Travellers entering Germany by air currently have to provide a negative test result or proof they are fully vaccinated only if coming from a designated area of high incidence.
The new rule would set a blanket requirement for all unvaccinated travellers regardless of where they come from or the mode of transport.
A health ministry spokesperson confirmed: “Coordination on this is underway.”
Germany’s Robert Koch Institute for public health reported on Tuesday that the rate of infection across Germany had tripled over the previous seven days although it remained low at 14.5 new cases per 100,000. It noted returning travellers “are contributing to bringing infections into Germany”.
The German government added Spain and the Netherlands to its high-incidence list from Tuesday, meaning unvaccinated travellers returning from the countries face 10-day quarantine although this can be halved by a negative Covid test.
The seven-day rate of infections per 100,000 in Spain was 333 at the end of last week, up from 42 in June. The 14-day rate, which the UK works on, was 702 on Tuesday.
Germany has set a limit of 200 at which a country is declared a high-incidence area.
Almost half the German population have been fully vaccinated. The new testing rules will not only hit younger adults but also families as most children are unvaccinated and all aged six and over could be required to quarantine regardless of whether their parents are fully vaccinated, unlike in the UK.
Following the announcement on Spain, German trade publication FVW reported: “Many German holidaymakers are wondering whether to cancel or re-book their summer holiday in Spain.”
The German Travel Industry Association (DRV) slammed the decision, warning it would lead to cancellations and a loss of bookings.
DRV president Norbert Fiebig said it “destroyed the holiday plans of countless travellers, especially many families with children [and] leads to great uncertainty”.
Travel group DER Touristik, which owns Kuoni in the UK, reported “a lot of enquiries including cancellation requests” but noted: “A travel warning is not a travel ban.”
Both DER Touristik and Tui are offering free cancellations or re-bookings for customers booked to Spain up to August 15, but TUI said “the majority of guests have now been vaccinated”.
Tour operator group FTi was also offering free cancellation or re-booking, but chief executive Ralph Schiller told FVW: “Whether there will be a comeback for Spain before the end of the summer season remains to be seen.”