| 24 May 2024, Friday |

As Delta variation takes over, Germany may be able to ease travel restrictions

Germany anticipates the Delta strain of COVID-19 to account for up to 80% of infections this month, easing travel restrictions from countries like Portugal and the United Kingdom, where it already reigns supreme, according to the German health minister.

Jens Spahn said at a press conference that Germany could cut the existing 14-day quarantine rule for travelers from countries with high levels of the Delta variety if it is certain that those who have been vaccinated are safe.

New studies suggest that people who have received two doses of vaccine are well protected against the Delta variant, which could mean that the rules could be reassessed soon, Spahn said, without saying when that may happen.

He reiterated the importance of speeding up vaccinations, noting that 37% of Germany’s population has now received two shots, while 55% has had their first dose.

Germany last week declared Portugal and Russia to be “virus-variant zones”, meaning a mandatory two-week quarantine even if travelers are fully vaccinated or test negative, prompting German tourists there to rush home and airlines to cancel flights. It also classifies Britain as such a zone.

Such countries, according to Spahn, might be moved to a category that allows tourists to be released after five days if they test negative for the disease.

When Angela Merkel meets with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday, she is expected to debate travel restrictions.

The European Commission said on Tuesday that Germany should not impose a travel ban on Portugal, but instead confine itself to testing and quarantine procedures in order to comply with the European Union’s approach to summer tourism.

  • Reuters