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A testing station at Germany’s border with the Czech Republic. Travellers entering Germany will not only be tested at airports but also at land borders on the highways and at train and bus stations/Photo: Screenshot/ZDF

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

Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn has decided to make corona testing mandatory for people entering Germany. It will apply to all travellers entering Germany from high-risk areas from Saturday, 8 August.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Germany’s centre for disease control, lists the countries that are classified as high-risk areas on its website. The list of high-risk areas currently comprises about 130 countries and regions and is updated continually.

“Those who do not have a negative test certificate [German or English language documentation of a very recent negative coronavirus test] must be quarantined for two weeks,” Spahn said at a press conference in Berlin. The reason for the decision is the increasing danger of new infections brought in by travellers from abroad, including inhabitants returning from vacation. On Wednesday, the RKI  reported 1,045 new infections, the highest number since May.

People refusing to take a test could face a fine of up €25,000 (US$30,000), depending on the federal state where they live, Spahn said on Thursday in Berlin. The decision on penalties lies with the local authorities.

The tests, which are free of charge to the traveller, will be carried out by the German Red Cross right behind the passport and customs areas at airports. There are also plans to set up testing booths at the borders on the highways and train and bus stations. Should an immediate test not be possible, because the test booths are closed, travellers are obliged to go for a test within 14 days and remain in quarantine until they have done so.

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Spahn emphasised that those entering the country from risk areas must already be quarantined or show a current negative test result. The test must be carried out within 72 hours after entry. 

The central criterion for classifying countries or regions as high-risk areas is that there have been more than 50 newly infected persons per 100,000 inhabitants in the last seven days.

“The pandemic is not over yet,” the health minister stressed, expressing concerns that the end of school holidays in several German states could bring another sharp increase in the already rising infection figures.

Vivian Asamoah

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