Germany is set to introduce mandatory testing for all citizens arriving from countries with high coronavirus infection rates, health minister Jens Spahn announced yesterday afternoon. The tests will be free of charge and the new measure could come into force as early as next week.
“We have to prevent returnees from unwittingly infecting others and triggering new chains of infection”, tweeted Spahn, adding that the measure “serves to protect all citizens”. Compulsory testing will not only apply at airports, but also at train stations and border crossings.
Germany currently considers 130 regions to be high-risk, including Turkey, Egypt and the US. The list has been compiled by the Federal Government and the Robert Koch Institute, and is based on whether an area has seen more than 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants within the past seven days.
Those travelling from non-risk areas will also be eligible for a free test within 72 hours of entering Germany, though this will be available at doctor’s surgeries and medical centres rather than directly on arrival.
With the summer tourism season set to peak in the coming weeks, concerns at the possibility of a second wave of coronavirus infections are rife. Friday alone saw 815 new cases reported - the highest daily figure for Germany in two months.
Bavaria had already pushed for testing at transport hubs, with state minister Markus Söder announcing yesterday morning that voluntary tests will be available at three of the state’s border crossings and at the main train stations in Munich and Nuremberg.
Söder’s caution serves as a poignant reminder that the federal state is one of the hardest hit regions in Germany. On Sunday, substandard hygiene measures saw 174 harvest workers on a vegetable farm in Mamming contract the virus, resulting in its workforce of almost 500 all having to enter an on-site lockdown. Söder stated that obligatory testing must be in place “as quickly as possible”, and increased fines for Bavarian employers who do not adhere to Covid-safe regulations, escalating the penalty from €5,000 to €25,000.
There are currently more than 6,000 active cases of coronavirus in Germany, with the country totalling 9,000 deaths.