A coronavirus test for air travellers before returning to Germany by plane became mandatory on 29 March.
“Testing prior to departure will reduce the likelihood that infected persons will travel and infect others during the flight or cause an additional entry of SARS-CoV-2 infections into Germany,” the federal ministry of health had announced.
Previously, only travellers from high-risk areas were required to present a negative test upon arrival in Germany. Travellers will henceforth be required to take a Covid-19 test before departure, regardless of infection rates in the country where the flight originates. Airlines are only allowed to let passengers onboard when they show proof of a negative test, according to the new rule.
Here’s what you need to know about the new rule:
- The regulation applies to all incoming air travellers
- Travellers must be tested by an “approved body” abroad before departure. If this is not possible, the airline can carry out or arrange for testing
- In principle, the test must have been carried out no more than 48 hours before departure.
- Air travellers must bear the costs of the tests themselves.
- There is no obligation to test. But travellers are only permitted to board flights to Germany if a negative test result is presented.
- The border protection authorities or health authorities can also check that travellers arriving Germany possess a test.
- If a Germany-bound passenger tests positive, they would borne the costs of a possible quarantine in the country.
- The new testing obligation will initially apply up to and including 12 May 2021.
The new rule is causing apprehension among travellers. What if a passenger travelling back to Germany from a holiday destination tests positive? Who pays for the extension of their stay there and caters to their medical treatment? What if testing facilities are not easily accessible in the foreign country?
The German Air Transport Association (Bundesverband der Deutschen Luftverkehrswirtschaft) warns: “Sufficient test capacities and test infrastructures are not available to passengers at all destinations worldwide. There is an urgent need to regulate exceptions here. Otherwise passengers will be left behind abroad.”
One suggestion is that travellers should only be tested after arriving in Germany.
The airlines are expected to provide assistance to their passengers on how to get tested but are not obliged to carry out any tests. “We will not test ourselves, but we will provide information on where local test laboratories can be found. The customer must take care of the test on their own responsibility,” a Lufthansa spokeswoman was quoted by ZDF as saying.
International travel health insurance provides insurance cover for accidents and illnesses that occur during the trip, explains the Association of Private Health Insurers (PKV). It only reimburses the costs for treatments or medicines that were not expected before the start of the trip. This also includes a covid-19 illness while on holiday.
Consumer rights groups recommend that travellers check the conditions of their travel health insurance in advance. And in case they’re not sure, they should contact the insurance company directly for clarifications before travelling abroad.