Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Germany is maintaining COVID-19 restrictions as of Sept. 17; list of areas designated as high-risk updated.

Alert Begins 17 Sep 2020 11:59 AM UTC
Alert Expires 01 Oct 2020 11:59 PM UTC

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Transport and business disruptions

Authorities in Germany are maintaining restrictions introduced to combat the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as of Sept. 17, while regularly updating the list of high-risk areas abroad where new COVID-19 cases exceed 50 per 100,000 inhabitants over a seven-day period. Most travelers from outside of the EU and Schengen Area, with the exception of those from Australia, Canada, Georgia, New Zealand, Thailand, Tunisia, the UK, and Uruguay, remain prohibited from entry. Limited exceptions are made for EU citizens and residents, diplomats, essential workers, students, freight and transport workers, individuals in transit, and for urgent reasons decided on a case-by-case basis. All such arrivals are subject to a mandatory 14-day self-isolation period, though this can be avoided by individuals in possession of a medical certificate issued within the previous 48 hours by an EU member state or by a state listed by the Robert Koch Institute declaring them to be COVID-free. This measure does not apply to transport and freight workers.

The Robert Koch Institute lists all current high-risk locations. Recent additions are the Hauts-de-France region of France, the Brod-Posavina and Virovitica-Podravina counties of Croatia, the provinces of Noord-Holland and Zuid-Holland in the Netherlands, Vienna State in Austria, the Caras Severin and Neamt districts of Romania, Freiburg Caton in Switzerland, the Stredocesky Region of Czech Republic, and Budapest in Hungary. The Arges and Dambovita districts of Romania are no longer designated as high risk.

Testing is mandatory for travelers arriving from high-risk areas. The testing will be free of charge and take place at international travel hubs, including airports and railway stations. Where necessary, testing facilities will also be available for those arriving by car. Quarantine requirements will be waived for travelers who are found to be COVID-19-free. As a result of the new testing, processing delays are possible for travelers arriving from high-risk areas.

Authorities have eased most internal COVID-19 measures, though facemasks are required in most public spaces, including on public transport and in retail shops; where possible, people from different households should remain a minimum of 1.5 m (5 feet) apart. Major public events, where contact tracing and social distancing compliance is not possible, will remain banned through 2020. Hotels and other short-term accommodations have reopened; hygiene and social-distancing guidelines must be observed. All retailers and nonessential businesses are permitted to reopen; however, limits have been placed on the number of customers in the store, and queues should be avoided.

The power to ease or reimpose COVID-19 measures largely rests with German states. Accordingly, regional restrictions can vary. Outdoor demonstrations are permitted under certain conditions, including the requirement that the meeting place offers enough space to maintain social distance. Local authorities will reimpose measures if local case numbers exceed 50 per 100,000 people in a seven-day period. Some areas have seen localized stay-at-home orders in response to spikes in case numbers.

All restrictions are subject to amendment at short notice in response to government reviews and may receive updates or extensions in the coming days.

Background and Analysis
Authorities are likely to reintroduce sporadic, targeted measures in response to local COVID-19 outbreaks. Such measures could apply to local government areas, neighborhoods, or even specific facilities, including schools, factories, or accommodation and office blocks. Mandatory social distancing procedures in public places and on public transport, as well as widespread voluntary "self-policing" by residents, will assist in reducing the potential for contagion, reducing the necessity of a large-scale, indiscriminate reintroduction of restrictions.

COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions.

Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel plans and business appointments and allow additional time for processing if arriving from an area of high COVID-19 activity. Carry proper identification and other necessary travel documents to present at security checks. Consider delaying travel if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

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