Germany imposes travel restrictions over COVID variants

Visitors from countries deemed high risk due to mutations of the coronavirus — such as the UK, Brazil, Portugal and South Africa — will now face entry restrictions to Germany.

Germany announced entry restrictions for travelers from Britain, Ireland, Brazil, Portugal and South Africa, as concerns of more contagious coronavirus variants are rising.

In a new regulation released on Friday, the German government government said that in addition to current testing and quarantine restrictions,  “a temporary limitation shall be imposed on carriage of travelers from countries designated as regions with variants.”

What are the restrictions?

Starting on Saturday, a transportation ban will go into effect for all flights, trains, buses and ships from countries where the new variants have spread.

The countries impacted by the ban are Brazil, South Africa, Portugal, the UK and Ireland.

Starting on Sunday, the restrictions will also apply to travelers from the small African countries of Lesotho and Eswatini.

The restrictions are currently set to run until February 17.

There are several exceptions to the travel restrictions, including: people who have right to reside in Germany and those who are transporting goods, as well as urgent medical transports and travel due to “urgent humanitarian reasons.”

Reducing air travel

Earlier this week, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer told the Bild newspaper that the plan will include completely halting flights into the country.

He said the government was looking at stricter border checks, “but also reducing air travel to Germany to almost zero, as Israel is currently doing.”

A slower than expected rollout of vaccines has forced EU governments to mull extending lockdown measures.

Germany coped relatively well with the first coronavirus wave last spring, it has been hit hard by a second wave in recent months.

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