Switzerland: Germany to require tests from unvaccinated border crossers from Sunday

Switzerland: Germany to require tests from unvaccinated border crossers from Sunday
A stop sign at the German border. BARBARA GINDL / APA / AFP
Germany is tightening its coronavirus measures as a consequence of rising case numbers, with almost all arrivals from Switzerland to require proof of full vaccination, recovery or a negative test to cross the country’s land border.

The measure is set to be put in place from Sunday, August 1st, reports Swiss news outlet 20 Minutes. 

News agency AFP reports that Germany’s federal police will start carrying out random border checks from Sunday onwards. 

Currently, arrivals to Germany via air require one of the three (vaccination, recovery or a negative test) however this was not the case for arrivals via land. 

UPDATED: Who can travel to Switzerland right now?

The rule will be put in place subject to a few exceptions, for instance for cross-border workers and people transiting through Germany. 

The rule will apply to everyone aged 12 and up. 

At this stage, it is unclear whether shopping tourists from Switzerland and Austria will be given an exemption to the rule. 

German Health Minister Jens Spahn said the measure would reduce the risk of additional infections in Germany, where confirmed case numbers are rising. 

“All unvaccinated people entering Germany must be tested in the future – regardless of whether they come by plane, car or train,” said Spahn.

Spahn confirmed that people who have proof or recovery or full vaccination will not need to provide a negative test when crossing the border. 

“This way we reduce the risk of additional infections being introduced.

“Vaccinated people save themselves testing and, in principle, do not have to be in quarantine.”

While the measure seems to have widespread support, particularly in the southern state of Bavaria which borders Austria, a spokesperson from Germany’s centrist FDP criticised the plan, saying it was “another blow in the neck for the tourism industry”. 

Germany is slightly ahead of its southern neighbours when it comes to the percentage of people vaccinated. 

As at July 29th, 51 percent of Germans have been fully vaccinated, compared with 50 percent in Austria and 47 percent in Switzerland. In total, 48 percent of the EU is fully vaccinated. 

As can be seen in the following chart, 61 percent of Germans have had at least one shot, compared with 58.5 percent of Austrians and 53.6 percent of Swiss. 

58.7 percent of the European Union has had at least one shot. 

Same rules for virus variant countries

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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