TRAVEL: Germany adds Switzerland and Poland to Covid ‘high-risk’ list

Germany has added five countries to its Covid high risk travel list including neighbouring Switzerland and Poland.

People visit the Wienachtsdorf Christmas market at Zurich's Sechseläutenplatz.
People visit the Wienachtsdorf Christmas market at Zurich's Sechseläutenplatz. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/KEYSTONE | Christian Beutler

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) announced on Friday that Poland, Switzerland, Jordan, Liechtenstein and Mauritius were being classified as high risk areas due to the worsening Covid situation. 

Unvaccinated travellers arriving in Germany from these countries will have to self-isolate for up to 10 days.

As of Sunday, December 5th, people who have stayed in those countries in the previous 10 days before arrival in Germany will face the stricter entry rules.

German authorities require that anyone who has spent time in a designated risk area (high-risk area or area of variants of concern), has to complete the Digital Registration on Entry.

The digital registration allows travellers to upload proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative Covid test before departing for Germany. 

But people who can’t submit proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid have to go straight to their destination in Germany and self-isolate there for 10 days. 

This quarantine period can be shortened with a negative test taken at the earliest five days into the isolation. Travellers will usually receive guidance from their local health authority when they arrive in Germany. 

For children under the age of 12, the self-isolation period automatically ends five days after entry – they do not need to take a test. 

Why has the risk been upgraded?

Switzerland has been seeing its highest number of Covid cases ever, and is running out of ICU beds. Poland is also seeing an uptick in cases. And only about 53.9 percent of the population is fully vaccinated. 

Many people in Germany commute into neighbouring countries, and vice versa. 

Germany is also a popular shopping destination for people living in border areas. For instance German supermarkets and retail outlets offer much cheaper prices than those available in Switzerland.

There are exemptions to travel rules for people who are spending less than 24 hours in Germany, or are cross-border commuters. 

Germany has been tightening its travel restrictions in recent weeks due to the surge in Covid infections in many countries, and the emergency of the Omicron variant. 

South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe were classified as ‘variant concern’ regions on November 28th. 

READ ALSO: Germany bans travel from South Africa over new Covid variant

Only German nationals and people with residence rights are allowed to enter Germany from these countries. They must also quarantine for 14 days upon arrival back in Germany – regardless of their vaccination status. 

They also have to show a negative Covid test before being allowed to board a flight to Germany.

Member comments

  1. Does anyone knows if I will need quarantine if I travel to Germany with connection in Poland (I will be there 2 hours )?

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US to end Covid testing requirement for travellers from Europe

Authorities in the USA have announced the end of the Covid-testing requirement for arrivals from Europe, meaning that fully vaccinated people will soon be able to travel between Europe and the US without needing pre-travel tests.

US to end Covid testing requirement for travellers from Europe

Most of Europe had dropped the testing requirement for fully-vaccinated arrivals in the spring, but the US has maintained the requirement to show proof of a negative test for all arrivals.

However on Friday, the Biden administration announced that it would not renew the testing requirement.

The new rule is expected to come into effect at 12.01 Sunday EDT, until then passengers will still need to show a negative Covid test before they can board a plane to the US.

The US currently bars unvaccinated travellers from entry – although this does not apply to US citizens, US residents or those travelling for essential reasons – there was no announcement on lifting this restriction. 

The CDC said that testing requirements could be reinstated if new variants of Covid emerge, and added that it continues to recommend pre-travel testing. 

Covid travel rules vary between individual countries in Europe, but most countries now only require pre-departure tests for unvaccinated travellers. Check the rules of the country you are travelling to for full details. 

To be counted as ‘fully vaccinated’ travellers must have received both doses of an EMA-approved vaccine – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca (or a single dose of Janssen).

If their vaccination was more than nine months ago, they need a booster shot in order to be considered fully vaccinated – people who have had a booster do not need a second, even if their booster shot was more than nine months ago.