Germany to require tests for all unvaccinated travellers

Under current German rules, any unvaccinated person entering the country by plane must get tested, but those entering by road or rail must not unless they are coming from an area deemed high risk.

Under Germany's new rules, those entering from so-called virus variant countries, such as Brazil and South Africa, must get tested even if they are vaccinated -- a rule set to remain unchanged according to the draft. Picture: AFP

BERLIN – Anyone entering Germany from abroad will have to take a COVID-19 test from Sunday unless they are fully vaccinated or have recovered from the disease, Health Minister Jens Spahn said Friday.

"All unvaccinated people entering Germany will have to be tested in future - regardless of whether they come by plane, car or train," Spahn said in a statement.

The new rules, to be signed off by the cabinet on Friday, will apply to all travellers over 12 years old with the exception of cross-border commuters and those passing through in transit, according to a draft seen by AFP.

They will apply to travellers "regardless of where they have come from and the means of transport they use," Finance Minister Olaf Scholz told the Funke media group.

Under current German rules, any unvaccinated person entering the country by plane must get tested, but those entering by road or rail must not unless they are coming from an area deemed high risk.

Those entering from so-called virus variant countries, such as Brazil and South Africa, must get tested even if they are vaccinated - a rule set to remain unchanged according to the draft.

Police have said the rules will not be enforced through systematic border controls, but through random checks.

Regional leaders in Germany's border regions, especially Bavaria and Rhineland-Palatinate, had been calling in recent days for tighter travel measures.

Germany has seen low infection numbers over the summer compared to many of its European neighbours, but cases have been creeping up over the past few weeks, largely fuelled by the Delta variant.

The country recorded 2,454 new cases in the past 24 hours on Friday, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) health agency, and an incidence rate of 17 new cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days - up from a low of 4.6 in early July.

With the country's vaccination campaign running out of steam, the debate has been heating up around possible restrictions for the unvaccinated, though compulsory vaccination for parts of the population has so far been ruled out.

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