German health officials on Friday slapped Britain back on the list of coronavirus “risk areas” amid fears over the spread of the Indiian COVID-19 variant there.
The move comes despite the UK*s vaccination drive that has seen its citizens taken off travel red lists across the world.
According to the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases, the classification was made “despite a 7-day incidence of less than 50 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants” in the UK.
However, the move was prompted after the World Health Organization classified the B.1.617.2 variant (detected in India) as a “Variant of Concern.”
The UK government on Friday said the variant was “increasing rapidly” in parts of England.
Cases have doubled from 520 last week to 1,313 this week, officials said.
On May 19, restaurants, hotels, theaters, and sport facilities are set to reopen, admitting visitors who show proof of a negative COVID test. These reopening plans will coincide with the elimination of quarantine rules for arriving tourists, enabling vaccinated and tested visitors to enter the country, as well as those who have recovered from COVID-19.
In order to fly to Switzerland, you will need a negative test, but this does not apply to arrivals by land. Only visitors arriving from high-risk areas are required to self-quarantine. Hotels are open, as are museums, stores, theaters and amusement parks. Restaurants are allowed to serve guests outdoors. Maximum occupancy numbers, social-distancing and mask-wearing rules apply everywhere.
In Greece, the outside areas of restaurants are allowed to open again but are required to close by 10:45 p.m., and a curfew is in place starting at 11:00 p.m. Vacationers who want to enter the country are obligated to submit their personal data online and they must show proof of a negative PCR test or that they are fully vaccinated. They dont’t need to self-quarantine.
Italy is gradually lifting its restrictions. In areas with lower incidence rates, restaurants are allowed to serve guests outdoors even in the evening, but a curfew is in place starting at 10:00 p.m. Museums and movie theaters in “yellow zones” are open again. Italy aims to officially start its summer season on June 2, but the applicable restrictions for visitors have yet to be drawn up.
France is gradually opening up. Residents are now allowed to go beyond ten kilometers from their homes without a valid reason, and trips within the country are permitted again. A curfew is in place starting at 7 p.m. but is set to be pushed back to 9 p.m. starting on the May 19. Restaurants will then be allowed to serve guests outdoors, and stores and cultural establishments will open again.
The situation in Spain has eased up considerably, with many restrictions already lifted, but several regions plan to maintain their curfews for the time being. Masks will also continue to be mandatory outdoors. Arrivals from EU and Schengen countries are allowed, but those coming from high-risk areas are still required to show a negative test.
After about five and half months, a state of emergency was lifted Portugal on May 1. Restaurants, cultural and recreational establishments are thus now allowed to stay open until 10:30 p.m. In addition, the border with Spain is open again. Tourists from countries with a 14-day incidence rate exceeding 150, however, are still barred from entering Portugal.
In Croatia, hotels are allowed to receive guests and restaurants can open for outdoor dining provided they adhere to certain conditions. In order to enter the country, visitors must show proof of a negative PCR or antibody test, confirmation that they have recovered from COVID-19, or proof that they have been fully vaccinated.
Stores have been reopened, but in order to dine indoors, guests are required to use an app to show they have tested negative, been fully vaccinated, or have recovered from COVID. Fully vaccinated arrivals from EU and Schengen countries are allowed to enter Denmark without a valid reason provided that their country is classified as “orange” or better, meaning with a lower COVID risk.
Hotels are allowed to welcome guests again – at 50% capacity. Outdoor dining will be allowed as well starting on May 15 and indoor dining as of May 29. Visitors are required to self-quarantine for ten days upon arrival unless they show proof of a negative test. Fully vaccinated people and those who have recovered from COVID are likewise exempted from the quarantine requirement.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson told journalists on Friday that there was currently no evidence that the variant would evade the vaccines that are being deployed across the country.
“I have to level with you, this new variant could pose a serious disruption to our progress,” he said.
“And I must stress that we will do whatever it takes to keep the public safe.”
England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said there is “confidence” thaat the Indian variant is “more transmissible” than the strains already circulating in the UK.
Britain will now accelerate second doses of vaccines for the over-50s and the clinically vulnerable in a bid to stem its transmission.
Germany this week eased rules for travelers coming from “risk areas,” the lowest of three risk levels, allowing unvaccinated people to avoid the previous 10-day quarantine if they can show a negative test.
Those who are fully vaccinated or can prove they have recovered from COVID-19 by showing a positive PCR test that is at least 28 days old, do not need to quarantine.
Anyone coming from a risk country must still register their trip online with German authorities.
Unvaccinated people entering Germany by plane must show a negative test before boarding.
jf/rt (AFP, dpa, Reuters)