Germany tells citizens to stop travelling to high-risk countries

A sign shows the way to the Covid-19 test centre at the Frankfurt airport. (AP pic)

BERLIN: Germany on Thursday called on its citizens to stop travelling to countries and regions considered to have a high risk related to the coronavirus pandemic and announced plans for stricter quarantine rules.

“It has turned out that a disproportionately high number of travellers returning (from high-risk areas) tested positive,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters following a meeting with leaders of Germany’s 16 states.

Germany has managed to keep the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths relatively low compared with some other large European countries, with 237,936 cases and 9,285 deaths recorded.

But the number of new daily cases has been rising since early July and has accelerated in recent weeks.

In recent weeks, outbreaks traced back to weddings, family gatherings and parties at beach destinations abroad have made headlines in local media, leading to calls to crack down on events at which social distancing rules may not be observed.

Likely from October, anyone who has to quarantine because they travelled to a high-risk country will no longer be entitled to compensation for lost wages, Merkel said.

Germany has a list of high-risk countries and regions, which includes most countries outside of Europe.

But it has recently added a number of regions within the European Union, including Paris, France’s Cote d’Azur region, and most of Spain.​

Germany is also extending a ban on major events such as concerts, sports and festivals, until at least the end of the year. The ban was previously set to run out at the end of October.

States will also impose stricter limits on gatherings in private homes, and 15 of Germany’s 16 states agreed to a minimum fine of €50 for failing to wear a mask where it is mandatory, like in grocery stores or on public transportation.

“Corona is fully back in Germany,” Bavarian state premier Markus Soeder said at a joint news conference with Merkel. “It doesn’t make sense to have audiences at soccer matches again from September.”

Click here for our live update of the Covid-19 situation in Malaysia.