German state ministers want coronavirus testing for travellers

Travellers entering Germany from high-risk countries look set to have to submit to coronavirus testing at airports, Germany‘s state health ministers have decided.

The ministers, along with federal health minister Jens Spahn, agreed in principle on the mandatory tests during a conference call on Wednesday but a formal decision has not yet been taken, dpa has learned.

The ministers are due to speak again Friday to iron out the details, including who will pay for the proposed testing regimen.

Until now, travellers from high-risk countries have had to self-quarantine for 14 days, though the measure has been difficult to enforce. Most foreign countries are currently deemed high-risk by the Robert Koch Institute, the country’s disease control agency.

People entering Germany from low-risk countries, such as France, Spain, Greece and most of the EU, would not have to submit to testing under the new rule.

After travel restrictions were eased following a slowing of the pandemic in Europe, many Germans are currently on holiday in countries including Spain and Greece.

Media reports of raucous parties involving holidaymakers without masks or social distancing on the Spanish island of Mallorca, which is especially popular with Germans, have put politicians on alert.

German airports reacted with caution to the planned move and said their staff are could not be expected to do the testing.

“If the health authorities order a quick test – of whatever kind – it would have to be carried out by the authorities,” the German Airports Association said in a statement.

“It must also then be determined how to deal with passengers who have tested positive.”

The President of the German Medical Association, Klaus Reinhardt, has spoken out in favour of setting up coronavirus test centres at airports. “The coronavirus pandemic is not over yet,” Reinhardt told dpa in Berlin.

“The current, renewed rise in the number of infections in many European countries shows how quickly the pandemic can flare up again here as well.” Germany needs to prepare for this, he said.

“Test centres at airports can help prevent a second wave of coronavirus after the summer break,” Reinhardt added. “Everyone who comes back from a coronavirus hotspot should be tested,” he asserted.