Germany is thought to be considering a near-total shutdown of air travel, according to multiple reports. It comes as concern continues to grow with regards to new variants of the COVID-19 virus that are springing up around the world.
Germany is currently in the midst of its second lockdown, designed to deal with the second COVID-19 wave being spread around the country. While the number of cases is beginning to drop, the country’s lockdown is currently set to continue until at least the middle of February. The fear is that the UK’s COVID-19 mutation could soon become the dominant form of the virus in Germany.
Closing to international air traffic
According to the German language publication Bild, Germany is considering an Israel style travel ban that would see international flights to the country dropping to near zero. Interior Minister Horst Seehofer made the comments today.
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According to The Local, Seehofer said,
“The danger from the numerous virus mutations forces us to consider drastic measures. That includes significantly stricter border checks, especially at the borders of high-risk areas, but also reducing air travel to Germany to almost zero, as Israel is currently doing.”
At the moment, it seems as though such measures are only a consideration. The German Chancellor herself, Angela Merkel, called for Seehofer to investigate what could be done to bring down the risk from mutated forms of the virus. Of course, such drastic action would be a disaster for German flag carrier Lufthansa.
On Sunday, Merkel’s chief of staff, Helge Braun, revealed that the variant first discovered in the UK is expected to become the dominant variant in Germany, according to The Local. As such, the country wants to limit the importation of more variants if at all possible.
Travel already heavily restricted
Germany already restricts travel from hotspots of COVID-19 variants. The Robert Koch Institue has been monitoring areas with an exceptionally high risk of infection due to the widespread occurrence of COVID-19 variants since mid-January.
The entry rules can differ between the various federal states. Currently, in Hessen, home to Frankfurt Airport, all those traveling from a risk area are required to take a COVID-19 test within 48 hours before traveling or immediately after entering Germany while still at the airport. The individual must bear the cost of these tests.
Regardless of the test outcome, they must then proceed straight to quarantine for ten days. However, it is possible to end the quarantine after five days with another negative COVID-19 test, again at the individual’s expense. Violating the regulations can result in a fine of up to €25,000 ($30,000).
Do you think Germany should close to international air travel? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!