South Africa travel to Germany
(Photo by Christophe Gateau/picture alliance via Getty Images)
  • Germany no longer considers South Africa a “virus variant area” and will be reopening to travellers from SA on Tuesday.
  • South Africa, along with neighbouring countries, was classified as a “virus variant area” following to detection of Omicron, which limited travel to German citizens, legal residents, and members of their immediate families.
  • These exempted travellers, whether fully vaccinated or not, were forced to endure a two-week quarantine.
  • Now, as a merely “high-risk area”, South African travellers will be allowed into Germany without needing to quarantine, if they can prove their Covid-19 vaccination or recovery status.
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Germany will ease restrictions on South African travellers from Tuesday, following a decision to clear out its list of countries considered to be “virus variant areas”.

Controversial travel bans imposed on South Africa following the detection of the Omicron variant in late November are slowly being rescinded. South Africa’s work in detecting, and notifying the global community, of Omicron in late November was rewarded with far-reaching travel restrictions which decimated the tourism sector’s prospects of prosperous summer season.

The United Kingdom was one of the first countries to put South Africa on its restrictive red list. Around 70 countries followed the UK’s lead in the weeks that followed. But it was also one of the earlier countries to relax its restrictions, after admitting that Omicron was quickly becoming dominant, due to community transmissions, in mid-December.

Since then, countries like the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, and Denmark have reinstated flights and permitted entry to travellers from South Africa. International travel restrictions are however, being dismantled much slower than they were implemented in reaction to Omicron.

Germany is the latest country to revise its restrictions on South African travellers. Like the UK, Germany placed its toughest restrictions on South Africa, categorising the country, and some of its neighbours, as a “virus variant area”.

This classification, imposed a day after scientists from South Africa’s Network for Genomic Surveillance announced the detection of Omicron, limited entry into Germany from SA to German citizens, legal residents and members of their immediate family. These exempted travellers, whether vaccinated or not, have been subjected to a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI), responsible for disease control and prevention, announced sweeping changes to its list of “virus variant areas” on Thursday. South Africa, along with Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zimbabwe will be reclassified as “high-risk areas”. This takes effect on Tuesday.

Foreigners travelling from “high-risk areas” will be allowed to enter Germany and are required to complete a digital entry registration. This form requires personal details, like the traveller’s vaccination status, negative Covid-19 test result, flight details, and itinerary.

Every traveller over the age of six needs to carry proof of their Covid-19 status when entering Germany. This proof includes a negative PCR test result, proof of vaccination, or proof of recovery.

A negative PCR test result must be obtained within 72 hours before arriving in Germany.

Official proof of vaccination – in physical card or digital form – needs to include personal data of the person vaccinated, like a passport or ID number, date and number of vaccinations, and name of the vaccine used. Travellers are considered fully vaccinated 14 days after their final dose.

A positive PCR test result carried out at least 28 days but no more than six months previously can be used as proof of recovery from Covid-19.

Travellers who successfully prove they’ve been fully vaccinated or recovered from Covid-19 before travelling to Germany will not need to quarantine. Without this proof, travellers will be required to quarantine for 10 days. This quarantine can be ended after 5 days if the traveller provides another post-arrival, negative Covid-19 test result.

(Compiled by Luke Daniel)

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