A big change is coming for any travelers who want to come to the U.S., due to the pandemic.
BERLIN – The German government agreed to let travelers who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or recovered from infection avoid testing and quarantine when entering the country, unless they come from areas where variants of concern are prevalent.
Wednesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet approved a change to rules that will allow nonvaccinated people to end their quarantine early if they test negative.
The measures are designed to make summer travel easier, particularly for families when parents are vaccinated and children aren’t.
German media reported that doctors are under pressure from people hoping to go on summer vacation to give them vaccines even though they aren’t entitled to them yet.
Europe travel: EU races to iron out COVID-19 vaccine certificate details in time for summer travel
Health Minister Jens Spahn said the country expects to roll out its digital immunity certificate by the end of June, making it easier to prove a person has been fully vaccinated.
The certificate can be stored in an app that can be used instead of the yellow World Health Organization vaccine booklet. The goal is for it to be compatible with a vaccine certification system being developed by the European Union.
“If we manage to do this for the EU in the coming weeks, then we’ll likely set a global benchmark,” Spahn said.
Asked whether Germany would recognize travelers’ certificates for vaccines not authorized for use in the 27-nation EU, Spahn said this would depend on whether the shot reduces the risk of infecting others.
Vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency, such as the one made by Germany’s BioNTech and its U.S. partner, Pfizer, protect from serious illness and significantly decrease transmission of the virus.
“The vaccines approved outside of Europe need to prove that they can reduce the infection risk to a similar extent,” Spahn said. “If that’s the case, then I have no problem with equating them (with EMA-approved shots), but I want to have proof.”
Like other EU countries, Germany accelerated its rate of vaccination after a sluggish start at the end of last year. Over the past week, 5 million doses were administered, a number the government aims to double as the vaccine supply grows.
Official figures show that a third of Germany’s 83 million inhabitants had received at least one dose by Monday, and almost 10% had received both doses.
Several German states plan to relax pandemic restrictions in regions where the number of confirmed infections is below the threshold of 100 weekly cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Bavaria’s governor said open-air cultural events with up to 250 people and prebooked swimming in outside pools will be allowed again in those regions, starting May 21.
The head of Germany’s disease control agency warned against complacency, noting that the country has about 1,000 COVID-19-related deaths a week.
“If we open too early, then the virus will keep spreading,” said Lothar Wieler of the Robert Koch Institute.
The agency reported 14,909 newly confirmed cases Tuesday and 268 deaths.
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