Germany on Friday reported 11,242 new cases of coronavirus infection, marking the second day in a row with more than 11,000 new infections.
This week has seen the first time since the start of the pandemic that numbers over 10,000 have been recorded in a 24-hour period. The nationwide infection rate over the past seven days has risen to 60.3 cases per 100,000 people, compared with 56.2 per 100,000 the day before.
The death toll rose by 49 to 9,954.
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In view of the rising figures, a leading medical expert has said another lockdown could be necessary in Germany if the milestone of 20,000 new infections per day were passed.
“Then it would no longer be possible for health authorities to trace and interrupt chains of infection,” Frank Ulrich Montgomery, the chairman of the World Medical Association, told the daily Rheinische Post. “Then we could be up for a second lockdown because there is no other way to slow the virus.”
Montgomery also told the paper that any potential vaccine against the coronavirus would not be a “panacea” and that vaccinating the whole population could take “two to three years.”
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Montgomery stressed that keeping a distance, wearing masks and hand-washing remained important
The husband of Health Minister Jens Spahn has meanwhile joined the ranks of those infected, after Spahn himself tested positive on Wednesday. A spokesman for the Health Ministry said on Friday that Daniel Funke had gone into isolation with his husband on Wednesday and been tested on Thursday.
He said Spahn continued to have minor cold symptoms, while Funke was currently showing no symptoms.
Spahn is the first member of the German Cabinet known to be infected by the coronavirus. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and Chancellor Angela Merkel both went through brief periods of precautionary isolation but never tested positive.
Funke and Spahn are both in isolation
Authorities say the rise in cases is reflected in the number of hospital admissions in Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). According to the NRW government, some 1,420 coronavirus patients are currently hospitalized, compared with 320 one month ago. Of the patients, 275 are in intensive care, with 148 on ventilators.
However, the government said the hospitals were far from reaching their capacity, with 1,320 intensive-care places still available out of a total of 5,640.
The Canary Islands are no longer on the list of corona risk areas, the Robert Koch Institute announced on Thursday (Oct. 22). The abolition of the travel warning for the Canary Islands should above all please tour operators. For them, the islands off the coast of Africa with their year-round summer climate are one of the most important sources of hope for the winter season.
Starting October 15, some of the Caribbean state have been reopened for international flights, with Havana a notable exception. Every visitor is tested for the coronavirus upon arrival, and a team of doctors is available in every hotel. The German vacation airline Condor plans to offer flights to Cuba’s most popular tourist destination, the Varadero peninsula, starting October 31.
Discussions are underway between Australia and low-risk countries across Asia and the Pacific to lift coronavirus travel restrictions, but the government has warned that travel to the US and Europe may not be an option until 2022. From Friday, Australia will open its international borders for the first time since March, allowing visitors from New Zealand to travel to the country quarantine-free.
The cruise industry has decided to make coronavirus testing mandatory for all guests and crew members aboard cruise ships. The Cruise Lines International Association, the world’s largest such organization, announced on October 8 that passengers can only board ships by providing proof of a negative test result. All member shipping companies worldwide must now comply with this rule.
In the wake of significant increases in coronavirus infection figures in Europe, Berlin has announced further EU countries as risk areas for travelers. In addition to Belgium and Iceland, additional areas of France and Great Britain, including all of Northern Ireland and Wales, were also classified as risk areas on September 30.
Thailand is to receive its first foreign vacationers when a flight from China arrives next week, marking the gradual restart of a vital tourism sector battered by coronavirus travel curbs, a senior official said on Tuesday. The first flight will carry some 120 tourists from Guangzhou, flying directly to the resort island of Phuket.
India’s most famous building was closed for six months, but since Monday ( September 21) it can be visited again, under strict restrictions. Only 5000 online tickets will be issued per day. There are temperature checks at the entrance. Selfies are allowed, group photos are prohibited. The Taj Mahal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is normally visited by 8 million people every year.
The Foreign Ministry has reacted to higher numbers of coronavirus infections on September 16 by issuing further travel warnings, including Vienna and Budapest. The province of North Holland with Amsterdam as well as South Holland with the cities of The Hague and Rotterdam are also affected. New risk areas were also identified in the Czech Republic, Romania, Croatia, France, and Switzerland.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the tourism sector has suffered a loss of 460 billion dollars (388 billion euros) from January to June, the World Tourism Organization reported in Madrid. The loss of sales was five times higher than during the international financial and economic crisis of 2009, and the total number of tourists worldwide fell by 65 percent in the first half of the year.
Germany’s Foreign Office has warned against unnecessary tourism to Czech capital, Prague, and the Swiss cantons Geneva and Vaud (Vaud). This also applies to the French Mediterranean island of Corsica, the French regions Auvergne-Rhones-Alpes (around Lyon), Nouvelle-Aquitaine (around Bordeaux) and Occitania (around Toulouse) as well as more Croatian Adriatic areas, such as the city of Dubrovnik.
The German government has extended its travel warning for around 160 countries through September 30. The advisory applies to “third countries” — i.e. countries that are not members of the EU or associated with the Schengen area. From October 1st, a “differentiated system” will apply, in which individual travel and safety information will be given for each country.
Australia has extended its travel restrictions for a further three months. The borders will remain closed for visitors from abroad until at least December 17. However, the government announced that domestic travel will soon be allowed for residents of the country. An exception will be the state of Victoria, with its metropolis Melbourne, for which a lockdown has been in place since early July.
Germany has added the Canary Islands to its list of coronavirus hotspots. That means ALL of Spain is now considered a high-risk area for German travellers. Infection rates have surged across Spain since lockdown measures were lifted in June.
From Wednesday (Sept. 2), visitors can again enjoy the glass sky deck on the 100th floor of the “30 Hudson Yards” skyscraper in western Manhattan. Only a few days after its opening, the viewing platform had been closed in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. At 335 meters (1099 ft.), “The Edge” is considered the highest publicly accessible outdoor viewing terrace in the western world.
The German government has extended the travel warning for around 160 countries outside the European Union by two weeks until September 14. A spokeswoman for the German Foreign Ministry explained the move on Wednesday (Aug 26) with rising coronavirus infection rates. “The situation will not relax sufficiently by mid-September to be able to lift the worldwide travel warning,” she said.
On Monday evening (Aug 24) the German government issued a travel warning for the greater Paris area and large parts of the French Mediterranean coast becuase of the increased coronavirus infection rates. The regions of Île-de-France and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur have also been included in the updated list of risk areas compiled by the Robert Koch Institute.
With 2,500 instead of 6,000 passengers, the MSC Grandiosa left the port of Genoa on August 16. Stops on the seven-day voyage include Naples, Palermo and Valletta. Passengers and crew were tested for coronavirus before boarding, and body temperature is to be checked on a daily basis. Rival cruise company Costa will not be offering Mediterranean cruises again until September.
Germany’s health and interior ministries have agreed that all of Spain — apart from the Canary Islands — is now a high-risk area due to a surge in cases. Spain said it was closing night clubs across the country. Restaurants, bars and similar venues would need to close by 1 a. m. and would not be allowed to take in new guests after midnight.
France has declared Paris and the Bouches-du-Rhone department on the Mediterranean coast around Marseille high-risk coronavirus zones. The measure is in response to a sharp rise in COVID-19 infections over the past two weeks.
In the first six months of 2020, 59% fewer tourists came to Berlin than in the previous year. The Statistics Office said on August 10 that 2.7 million guests had visited Berlin, the lowest number since 2004. The slump was even worse for foreign tourists: two thirds stayed away. Since June, the figures have been recovering and are at 30 to 40% of the previous year.
Anyone entering Germany from a high-risk area must take a coronavirus test from August 8, after an order by Health Minister Jens Spahn. Currently, many countries are classified as risk areas, including the United States and Brazil. In the European Union, Luxembourg, the Belgian region of Antwerp and the Spanish regions of Aragon, Catalonia and Navarre were risk areas as of early August.
Germans can again travel to Turkey. The German government has partially lifted the travel warning for the four popular coastal provinces of Antalya, Izmir, Aydin and Mugla. Travelers must be tested for coronavirus before returning to Germany. The costs of between €15 and 30 must be paid by the traveler. Turkey is one of the most popular holiday destinations for Germans.
Norwegian cruise operator Hurtigruten has stopped all cruises on August 3 until further notice after an outbreak of the coronavirus on one of its ships. At least 40 passengers and crew members on the Roald Amundsen tested positive for COVID-19. Meanwhile, German cruise line Aida Cruises has also postponed its planned restart due to the lack of necessary permits.
Despite coronavirus uncertainty, Nepal has reopened Mount Everest for the autumn trekking and climbing season. To boost the struggling tourism sector the government will permit international flights to land in the country from August 17. The Himalayan country shut its borders in March just ahead of the busy spring season when hundreds of mountaineers usually flock to the country.
On July 28, the German Foreign Office issued an advisory opinion against non-essential tourist trips to the Spanish regions of Aragon, Navarre and Catalonia, citing the high number of COVID-19 infections as well as local restrictions. The Catalan regional government in Barcelona has said it regrets the decision, saying the regional government was acting responsibly while trying to protect lives.
Concerned over a possible second wave of coronavirus, Amsterdam has requested that tourists not visit the Dutch capital on weekends. Potential day-trippers should come between Monday and Thursday, the city said on July 23. The tourist influx has swelled to such a degree that recommended social distancing of 1.5 meters between people is currently not possible in the city center.
In order to manage tourist throngs amid the pandemic, Bavaria’s Economy Minister Hubert Aiwanger is planning a live digital guiding system for visitors. Clogged streets, wild campers and overcrowding on hiking trails in the Alps — this brings popular regions such as Lake Tegernsee (photo) to their limits. The live update system is primarily intended to redirect day-trippers to less full areas.
Visitors to Paris can finally visit the top of the Eiffel Tower again — the third level of the world-famous landmark opened on July 15. The number of tickets available is limited, in order to assure social distancing measures between visitors. Distancing is also in effect at the Disneyland Paris amusement park, which is opening its doors again after a four-month obligatory closure.
Due to illegally held parties, Mallorca has ordered the forced closure of restaurants at Ballermann and Magaluf, resort areas visited by German and British tourists. The regulation came into effect on July 15 for two months. The behavior of a few vacationers and local owners should not jeopardize the huge efforts to fight the pandemic, said Balearic Tourism Minister Iago Negueruela.
On Mallorca and the other Balearic Islands, the regulations for wearing face masks have been tightened. To prevent the spread of the coronavirus, mouth and nose protection must be worn from July 13 in all enclosed public spaces as well as outdoors, whenever it is possible to encounter other people. On the beach, at the pool and during sports, however, masks are still not mandatory.
Holiday flights within Europe are on the move again, with passengers sitting close together. According to an opinion poll by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), 62% of those questioned are afraid of being infected by passengers in the next seat. This was identified by IATA as the main reason for the decline in willingness to travel, which is now only 45%.
Starting from July 1, people from third countries with low infection rates may enter the EU again as regular travelers. These countries are Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Morocco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay. China will only be considered if it also lifts its entry restrictions for Europeans.
A coronavirus test center has been in operation at Frankfurt airport since June 29. Here, passengers both departing and arriving can be tested to avoid quarantine. The standard procedure, in which the results are available as a download within six to eight hours, costs €59. Around 300 tests can be performed per hour.
The Alhambra Castle in Granada in southern Spain opened its doors to tourists again on June 17. Initially, only 4,250 visitors were admitted at the same time — only half as many as usual. In addition, masks are mandatory. The Alhambra is considered the most important testimony to Arab architecture in Europe and is a World Heritage site.
Entry regulations, masks, quarantine? The new EU overview website “reopen.europa.eu” provides information on the coronavirus rules of individual EU countries — and in 24 languages. Tourists can enter their destination country on the website and find out about regulations that apply there. So far, the site contains information on 27 EU countries and is to be continuously updated.
During the night of June 15, the federal police ended the border controls that had been introduced three months ago due to the coronavirus crisis. Complete freedom of travel between Germany and its neighboring countries is back in effect. At the same time, the Foreign Office’s travel warnings for 27 European countries ended.
The beaches of the world people dream of, like here on Ko Phi Phi in Thailand, will have to do without German tourists. The German government has extended the travel warning for tourists due to the coronavirus pandemic for more than 160 countries outside the EU until August 31. However, exceptions can be made for individual countries where the spread of the virus has been sufficiently contained.
Some 6,000 Germans will be the first foreign tourists to be allowed to travel to the Balearic Islands from June 15. According to Spanish media, the pilot project is intended to test the security precautions at airports and hotels before all of Spain opens its borders on July 1. Germany was chosen because the epidemiological situation there is similar to that on the Balearic Islands.
Starting on June 3, tourists from Europe have been allowed to enter Italy again, the country that was one of the worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic worldwide. A two-week quarantine for travelers from Europe was no longer required. This should save the travel season. Italians will again be able to move freely throughout the country and travel to other regions.
The 14 cruise ships of the German Rostock-based shipping company Aida Cruises will remain in port until July 31. In many holiday destination countries the regulations for international tourism were still being discussed, the company announced. The Italian shipping company Costa also extended the cruise suspension for its fleet until July 31.
Rome’s 2,000-year-old landmark could finally be visited again from June 1, and the Vatican Museums also reopened on that day. Ancient Pompeii, south of Naples at the foot of Mount Vesuvius, welcomed visitors early, but only those from within the country. Foreign tourists had to wait until June 3 to visit the ancient sites.
From May 25, Greece’s islands were accessible again by plane and ferry for domestic tourists. Taverns, bars and cafes reopened nationwide. Ferries were to sell only 50% of their tickets, and taverns were only allowed to occupy half of their tables. The list of countries from which foreign tourists can enter Greece without a two-week quarantine was set to be announced at the end of May.
The Austrian government has announced that the border with Germany will be opened on June 15. Tourism in Austria has been effectively suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. On May 29, hotels and other accommodation in Austria will be allowed to reopen. Austrian tourism is heavily dependent on guests from Germany.
Borkum, Juist (photo) and the other East Frisian islands are happy to be able to greet tourists again, even if it’s a limited surge of visitors. Since May 11, overnight stays in holiday apartments and camping sites throughout Lower Saxony have been allowed again. Holidaymakers must stay at least one week. However, day tourists and hotel overnight stays are still prohibited.
Holidaymakers might also be able to travel to the Balearic or Greek Islands in summer. “If there are very few new infections there and the medical care works, one could also think about a summer holiday in those places”, the government’s commissioner for tourism, Thomas Bareiss, told the Tagesspiegel newpaper. Long-distance travel, however, is likely to be canceled this summer.
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is the first federal state to reopen to tourists from all over Germany: From May 25th they can again stay in hotels, guest houses and holiday homes. 60 percent of the bed capacity will be released for this purpose. This means that the tourist season can start with the Whitsun holidays in popular holiday regions like the Baltic Sea and the Mecklenburg Lake District.
Germany extended on Wednesday (April 29) its worldwide travel warning due to the coronavirus crisis to at least June 14. The Federal Foreign Office said that “severe and drastic restrictions in international air and travel traffic and worldwide entry restrictions, quarantine measures and restrictions on public life in many countries can still be expected.”
Oktoberfest has been canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Bavaria’s premier Markus Söder and Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter announced the decision on April 21.”It pains us, and it is a great pity,” said Söder. But in times of the coronavirus, the danger of infection at the folk festival, which attracts about 6 million visitors annually, would just be too great.
tj/msh (dpa, AP, Reuters)