Travel at your own risk
End of the general travel warning: The new traffic light system hardly arouses holiday feelings
After almost half a year, the general travel warning due to the corona pandemic ends. Each of the nearly 200 countries in the world is now assessed individually. But that hardly changes anything for the holidaymaker.
It was a unprecedented step: on March 17th, Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas issued a warning against tourist trips to all around 200 countries in the world. “We have to prevent more Germans from stranding abroad,” he said in support of a press statement that was made at short notice. “Please stay home!”
The situation at the time was somewhat dramatic. In the days before, borders around the world had been closed and flight connections were cut due to the corona pandemic. Tens of thousands of Germans were stuck abroad and had to be brought home in an unprecedented return campaign by tour operators, airlines and the government in the following weeks.
In order not to aggravate the situation further, the travel warning, which previously only applied to crisis and war areas such as Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen, was extended to the whole world. As of Thursday, this state of emergency is history. As early as June 15, the blanket regulation for most European countries had been lifted.
Now, outside of Europe, every single country is again assessed individually by the Federal Foreign Office. From Thursday, a uniform three-stage system will apply to the whole world, which can also be described as a traffic light:
Red: travel warning
The travel warning is now based entirely on the number of infections. If there are 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days, a country or region is considered a risk area. A travel warning is then automatically issued. On Wednesday morning the list of risk areas kept by the Robert Koch Institute included 121 countries in their entirety and a further 13 countries with individual regions.
Together that is around two thirds of the countries in the world. The travel warning is not a ban, but it should have the greatest possible deterrent effect. The good thing for vacationers: they can cancel a trip that has already been booked if their destination is declared a risk area.
Yellow: travel warning light
Among the countries for which the travel warning no longer applies from Thursday, there are a number of countries that you can still not travel to. The reason: There are entry restrictions or restrictions on air traffic. One example is the popular winter vacation destination Thailand. There are hardly any corona infections there, but there has also been a general entry ban for tourists since the end of March.
The situation is similar in Australia, the USA, China or Rwanda and Uruguay. For all of these countries, the Federal Foreign Office advises against travel under the new regulations. This also applies to all countries for which the European Union has not yet lifted its entry ban. Together you come to 47 countries. The “travel warning light” can also enable free cancellations, but the legal situation here is not as clear as with the formal travel warning.
Green: Vacation at your own risk
There are not many countries left for which there is no travel warning or “travel warning light”. Outside Europe there are only two: Tunisia and Georgia. In addition, an exception rule made a few weeks ago for the Turkish holiday regions on the Mediterranean continues to apply. For holidaymakers who are drawn abroad, there is an additional complication that, due to the rapidly increasing number of infections, one travel warning after another is reactivated in Europe as well.
15 out of 27 EU countries are now partially or completely affected. Of the most popular holiday destinations for Germans, only Italy is still without a risk area – of all things, the country that was originally hit hardest by the pandemic in Europe.
Suddenly from green to red
But the green corona traffic light can also turn red very quickly. Therefore, the following applies in principle: Vacation in Corona times is vacation at your own risk. The federal government has already made it clear that it would prefer it to be without trips abroad in the autumn holidays that start next week and in winter.
“You can also take a vacation in Germany,” said Health Minister Spahn last week on ZDF. In the corona pandemic, it has been shown time and again that return travelers are increasingly bringing in the virus. “I think we should learn from this together for autumn, winter and Christmas holidays.”