It’s a sign that Germany’s COVID-19 restrictions have been effective: The German government has now agreed to allow people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to skip testing and quarantine when entering the country. The rules will also apply to people who have fully recovered from the virus.
It must be pointed out, however, that the rules will not apply to travelers arriving from countries deemed “high risk” due to high case counts of COVID-19 infections or from areas where COVID-19 variants remain particularly concerning.
The looser rules also coincide with areas of Germany lifting night-time curfews and easing other restrictions — such as those that restrict dining and shopping.
“Let us be courageous and vigilant — let us reopen public and economic life and always keep in sight the development of the pandemic,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said, an Associated Press story reports. “It would be depressing if, because we want too much too quickly, we had to return to restrictions that we all want to leave behind.”
Cause For Optimism
As vaccines become more readily available, Germany’s rate of vaccination has increased correspondingly.
Germany has a population of approximately 83 million. Official figures show that a third of those citizens have received at least one dose of a vaccine — as of last Monday — and nearly 10 percent have received both doses of the vaccine, a USA Today article reports.
As you would expect, the rate of infection is falling as the rate of vaccination increases. Indeed, last Wednesday, the rate of infections in Germany over the past seven days fell to 107.8 per 100,000 people — the lowest in more than a month after peaking near 170 in late April, Bloomberg notes.
That said, while there is cause for optimism, it must nonetheless be tempered due to the reality of the ongoing pandemic. Germany’s Health Minister Jens Spahn even warned recently against “excessively high spirits” because the incidence rate is still too high, Bloomberg reports.
As the rate of infection falls and the rate of vaccination climbs, areas of Germany are working to reopen.
For instance, earlier this week, the Berlin state government agreed to lift its overnight curfew and ease restrictions on shopping beginning May 19, and it’s allowing outdoor dining to resume May 21, a Reuters article reports. Similar plans are underway in other regions, such as the western state of Rhineland-Palatinate, which plans to allow indoor dining to resume June 2.
Chancellor Merkel’s Cabinet approving the rule that allows people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or have fully recovered from infection to avoid testing and quarantine when entering the country is intended to further open the country and pave the way to make summer travel easier. The question, however, is this: How will German citizens and visitors prove they are fully vaccinated?
The answer, German Health Minister Spahn explained in the USA Today article, is that the country plans to roll out a so-called “digital immunity certificate” by the end of June. This certificate will serve as proof of vaccination.
What’s more, the certificate can be stored in an app that can be used in place of the World Health Organization’s vaccine booklet. The goal is for the digital immunity certificate to be compatible with a vaccine certification system currently in development by the European Union, he explained.
“If we manage to do this for the EU in the coming weeks, then we’ll likely set a global benchmark,” Spahn said.
Know Before You Go
It does need pointing out that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions are still in place limiting entry into Germany from the U.S. Currently, entry from the U.S. is only permitted for a few urgent exceptions — and proof of urgency is required. More information about the restrictions and guidelines may be found here.