Editor’s Note — Coronavirus cases remain high across the globe. Health officials caution that travel increases your chances of getting and spreading the virus. Staying home is the best way to stem transmission. Below is information on what to know if you still plan to travel, last updated on February 4.
(CNN) — If you’re planning to travel to Germany, here’s what you’ll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Germany’s border policies are changing swiftly as the country regularly updates its lists of high and moderate risk destinations. As cases rise with the Delta and now Omicron variants, Germany is accelerating its vaccination campaign. But the country has also been at the heart of Europe’s new wave. In order to control rapidly rising case numbers, unvaccinated people are now banned from most nonessential parts of daily life.
What’s on offer
Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt have long been cultural big-hitters. But there’s more to Germany than its superb cities — from hiking in Bavaria to wild forests on the French border and a hugely underrated coastline in the north. Throw in excellent public transport and road links and this is a country ripe for those keen on a long, free-form vacation.
Who can go
In principle, residents of EU member states and the Schengen-associated states of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland may enter Germany without restrictions — although if they become classed as high risk, or having a variant of concern, restrictions apply. Arrivals from several EU countries must now quarantine if they are unvaccinated — see below.
What are the restrictions?
Travel for EU and Schengen-related residents is unrestricted — though you must use your EU Digital Certificate to show proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test.
If you have been in a country designated to have a high level of risk within the past 10 days, you must provide a negative test result, and you must travel directly to your destination and quarantine there for 10 days. Those from a high-risk area may end quarantine early if they test negative after five days. The quarantine requirement is waived upon proof of vaccination or recovery.
If you have been in an “area of variant of concern,” there is a ban on entering via rail, ship, plane or bus. Essentially, you must drive, and then quarantine for 14 days.
The list was last updated February 4, with changes effective as of February 6. There are no new areas of concern, which means there are none at all.
However, there are three new high-risk areas: Armenia, Azerbaijan and the Palestinian territories. While 33 African countries and neighboring islands have been removed from the high-risk list. That leaves most of the world still classed as high risk.
If not vaccinated, only those traveling for essential reasons can enter. Unvaccinated children under 12 can enter if traveling with a vaccinated parent.
What’s the Covid situation?
Following spikes in winter 2020 and spring 2021, Germany saw case numbers drop dramatically as it ramped up its vaccination program. However, the Delta variant has put it at the heart of the new European wave. On November 8, the authorities announced that infection rates were at an all time high, with 201 infections per 100,000 people in the previous seven days — more than the previous record of 197.6 in December 2020. By November 16, that figure had risen to 312 infections per 100,000 people.
Since November 2021, almost every week has broken new infection records. Although numbers stabilized over Christmas and New Year, the week leading up to January 21 saw a record 635,348 new infections.
The government has offered booster shots to all adults in a bid to flatten the wave. Over 74% of the population is now fully vaccinated.
What can visitors expect
Since December 2021, unvaccinated people have been banned from restaurants and bars, movie theaters, gyms and nonessential shops.
People must work from home unless they cannot otherwise do their jobs — in which case they are subject to rigorous testing procedures.