Country leaders urge testing and quarantine for vacation returnees
Calls for stricter corona controls for vacation returnees are growing louder. With an eye on the rapid spread of the more contagious delta variant in Germany as well, more and more state government leaders are pushing to tighten testing and quarantine rules when people enter the country from abroad. "These spot checks are not enough, which are implemented by the federal police at the moment," Berlin's governing mayor Michael Müller (SPD) told ZDF television.
Hamburg's mayor, Peter Tschentscher (SPD), criticized the fact that a single, simple antigen test is currently enough to avoid quarantine when entering the country from risk areas. "That is too unsafe," he told Die Welt. Instead, he said, all unvaccinated travelers returning from risk areas and high-incidence areas should generally be quarantined, which should be lifted at the earliest after five days if a PCR test is negative.
Berlin's head of government, Müller, expressed a similar view. "You can already check on arrival: Who has the corresponding negative test evidence? And then here after a certain quarantine period also counter-check with a new test that you are really negative," the SPD politician explained on ZDF on Sunday evening. "It's nice when people can go on vacation. But we don't want to get the dangers back here to Germany."Previously, Bavaria's Health Minister Klaus Holetschek (CSU) had already demanded that vacationers be closely checked at the borders for vaccination cards and negative Corona tests. Lower Saxony's Minister President Stephan Weil backed the demand: "I expressly support the call for border controls to check whether negative tests are currently available. This is precisely what has been lacking so far," the SPD politician told Die Welt.Weil also called for mandatory double testing for all returnees who are not fully vaccinated. "Even in countries with comparatively low incidences, you run the risk of meeting other vacationers who carry the much more contagious delta virus," he said.Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania's Minister President Manuela Schwesig (SPD) had earlier warned, "International travel must not lead to more people becoming infected again and carrying the virus home."
Lauterbach and Kühnert also in favor of stricter testing requirements
SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach is also calling for stricter corona testing obligations for people returning from vacation. Those coming back from vacation should test themselves before returning home and then again five days after entering the country, he said Monday on RTL/ntv's "Frühstart." "It would be a smart regulation to even provide quarantine in the five days in between for those coming from risk areas." That way, he said, travel could be managed relatively safely, even from countries outside the European Union.
"That is the price of vacation: if I travel to a risk area, then I must also expect to be in quarantine for a few more days afterwards until it is ensured that I have not become infected," Lauterbach said.SPD Vice President Kevin Kühnert told RTL/ntv, referring to travelers returning from risk areas, that it could not be enough to simply present rapid antigen tests upon return. "But then there must be a close-meshed control system to ensure that the virus variants are not brought into Germany here even faster than that will happen anyway in the next few months according to Adam Riese." Kühnert warned, "The lesson from the summer of 2020 is already that you shouldn't confuse the lightness of the moment with the lightness of the overall situation."
The federal government regularly assesses the corona situation abroad, distinguishing between virus variant areas where variants classified as of concern are spreading, high-incidence areas with a seven-day incidence above 200, and risk areas with more than 50. Until now, only returnees from risk, high-incidence, and virus variant areas have been subject to testing obligations. However, due to declining infection figures, numerous vacation areas in Europe have recently been removed from the list of risk areas. Anyone returning to Germany from these areas by land is therefore no longer subject to entry restrictions. For air travelers, however, a general testing obligation continues to apply: Everyone - whether from a risk area or not - must present a negative test result, a vaccination or convalescent certificate before departure.
Image by Gerald Friedrich