High-risk areas: This changes when returning from vacation – travel

It was an often absurd situation: while Germany’s infection rate was at times over 1,500, countries with significantly lower infection rates were considered high-risk areas with corresponding quarantine requirements upon repatriation. Drawbacks should be eliminated, especially when traveling with families with children who are still young on vaccination, so it has been said from many sides. After the delays, the Cabinet’s decision to change the entry regulation has now been taken, the Federal Ministry of Health announced at the request of the news agency dpa – and travel will become easier, especially for families with young children.

What will change for those returning from vacation?

According to the Federal Ministry of Health, countries with more severe corona variants than omicron should be considered high-risk areas with more comprehensive entry requirements. As a direct result of this, the RKI removes all previous high-risk areas from its list.

Important for families: If countries are classified again as high-risk areas in the future, children under the age of 12 can directly test themselves from quarantine upon their return – unlike before. For children under six, it should be omitted for such areas. The Federal Ministry of Health also notes that the Standing Committee on Immunization has not yet issued any general vaccination recommendations for children under the age of twelve.

The 3-G rule of thumb on entry should not be changed, and thus the obligation to test non-vaccinated people: they must show a negative test upon entry, even if they come from non-risk areas.

When will the new rules come into effect?

The new regulations are effective from March 3, as announced by the Federal Ministry of Health and the RKI on its website. Spring break in Hamburg begins on March 7. Other federal states start their Easter holidays in April: in Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony their holidays begin on April 4, in Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia on April 11.

Traveling to which countries would make this easier?

Recently, all countries neighboring Germany and dozens of other countries around the world have been classified as high-risk areas. All of these warnings will be lifted from March 3, RKI reports on its website. However, with a note: “It is still possible to change the classification of risk areas at short notice.” A request to check the relevant country classification when traveling is still valid.

In the future, regions in which variants with “characteristics of more concern” are prevalent than the currently prevalent omicron variant–for example with pathogenic properties similar to the delta variant, according to the Department of Health–will be classified as high-risk regions.

What does the high-risk zone category mean for the holiday itself?

Designating the area as a high-risk area with a so-called “Covid-19 Travel Warning” could have heavy consequences if the holiday does not go as hoped. The Consumer Advice Center in North Rhine-Westphalia recently warned that not all health insurance companies pay for travel to stay in high-risk areas without objection.

Depending on the contract, on-site protection can be completely omitted in such cases – even in the case of accidents or diseases unrelated to Corona. In this regard, it is also convenient for vacationers if their destination country is not classified as a high-risk area. Otherwise, advocates of consumer protection advise checking the terms of the insurance contract in question and, if necessary, adjusting the tariff or taking a new policy.

What is the general status of entry restrictions at European borders?

There is currently a trend towards specification focused on EU Covid certification – also following an EU-wide decision at the end of January. Then, it is no longer the occurrence in the country of origin that decides about testing and quarantine obligations in the holiday country, but the verifiable state where they have been vaccinated, recovered or tested. Children up to the age of twelve are often excused. However, many countries also have special rules.

It is therefore always advisable to check the specifications currently in force. These can be found, for example, in the interactive map SZ Overview of travel rules in Europe.

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