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Travellers arriving Germany at the Frankfurt Airport/Photo: Screenshot/ZDF

Covid-19: Entering Germany from ‘high-risk’ countries – What you should know

Since Saturday, 8 August, mandatory testing applies to those entering the country from coronavirus high-risk countries and regions. Here’s how it functions:

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To whom does the mandatory test apply?

In principle, every person who has been in a high-risk area in the last 14 days before entering the Federal Republic of Germany must be tested for the coronavirus. This also applies to children. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Germany’s centre for disease control and prevention, lists on its website which countries and regions are considered high-risk areas.

Excluded from the mandatory test are persons who have only travelled through a risk area and have not stopped over there. Regular commuters between Germany and the neighbouring countries do not have to be tested for Covid-19 either. Those affected should check the regulations of the respective federal state in advance.

What makes a country a high-risk area?

RKI maintains a list of about 130 designated international risk areas where there is an increased risk of infection with the coronavirus. You can find this list here.

For the classification as a risk area, the RKI checks the countries or regions where they have recorded more than 50 newly infected persons per 100,000 inhabitants in the past seven days. Then “qualitative criteria” are used to determine whether countries or regions that nominally fall below this limit are nevertheless at risk of an increased risk of infection.

Reports from the Foreign Office and possibly also from various German ministries are included in this assessment. According to the RKI, the decisive factors for the classification are above all the infection figures and the type of outbreak (local or nationwide), test capacities and number of tests carried out per inhabitant, as well as measures taken in the countries to contain the incidence of infection with regard to hygiene regulations and contact tracing, for example. Consideration is also given to a situation that reliable information is not available for specific countries.

How can travellers comply with their obligation to test?

Travellers can have themselves tested before they enter Germany and present the result on entry or undergo a free test afterwards. Tests from other countries will only be recognised if they have been carried out in a member state of the EU or in other countries specified by the Robert Koch Institute within 48 hours before entry and the medical certificate is written in German or English.

All travellers who cannot present a negative test result on entry must have themselves tested within 72 hours of entry. This is possible at test stations at airports, railway stations and motorways.

The 14-day quarantine obligation after entry from a risk area, which has been in place for some time, still applies and can only be shortened by presenting a negative test result.

READ ALSO Travellers entering Germany must undergo mandatory coronavirus test or pay €25,000

How is the obligation to test controlled?

Travellers who were in a risk area in the last 14 days before entering Germany are obliged to report to the responsible health authority (Gesundheitsamt). Anyone entering by land – for example, by car – must expect random checks.

Before entering directly from a risk area by plane, ship, train or bus, the transport operator must issue so-called “Aussteigekarten” (Public Health Passenger Locator Forms), which must be filled by the travellers. These are then collected and sent by the operators to the health authority of the passenger’s place of residence or destination in Germany.

For passengers who have not yet presented a negative test result, random checks are carried out to verify compliance with domestic quarantine regulations.

What happens if people entering the country do not take the test?

Anyone who does not take the test in breach of the obligation to do so and refuses a test may be fined up to 25,000 euros. Anyone who does not comply with the domestic quarantine obligation until a negative test result is available must also be prepared for the imposition of a heavy fine. Violations of the obligation to report and provide evidence can also be punished.

Are there any other obligations?

Yes, anyone who shows typical symptoms of a Covid-19 infection such as shortness of breath, coughing, fever or loss of smell and taste within 14 days of entry after a negative test must report immediately to the responsible health authority. A repeat test may be ordered.

Femi Awoniyi

More information on the website of the Federal Government HERE

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