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FM Maas: Germany Working on Flying Home Stranded Tourists

Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has announced efforts to pick up thousands of German tourists who are stranded in several countries. He also issued a worldwide travel warning.

Germany was working on retrieving Germans from (former) tourist destinations on Tuesday, as the situation in most countries deteriorated due to the rapid spread of the Coronavirus. The efforts included flying them out of regions affected by the virus the most.

50 Million Euro for Retrieval

Foreign Minister Maas said in Berlin, the federal government had allocated 50 million Euro (56 million U.S. Dollars or 45 million Pounds Sterling) for this purpose and was in talks with “commercial service providers”. Those most likely include airlines which Germany is paying to fly German nationals back home.

Maas said the “concerted action” the government was taking had already begun. Some 4,000 to 5,000 Germans needed to be flown out of Morocco quickly because of imminent measures that country’s government would take. Those have to do with the closure of borders and possibly of airports.

Worldwide Travel Warning in Place

Because of the Coronavirus crisis and its implications for the airlines and tour operators, German tourists are stuck in many other countries too, both in Europe and overseas. Maas said Germans who were in this situation and wanted to be taken home needed to contact the German embassies and consulates in the countries they were located in, or register on the Foreign Ministry’s website.

According to Heiko Maas travel possibilities have decreased substantially already. He said this was only the beginning of this kind of development. For that reason his ministry had issued a worldwide travel warning. Touristic journeys should not be taken at this stage.

Restrictions at Hotels

Yesterday, Chancellor Angela Merkel had already announced a long list of measures which included restrictions for hotels. Overnight stays for touristic purposes are not allowed anymore. Neither are touristic trips on commercial long-distance buses.

On February 1st, Germany had evacuated 124 Germans and non-German family members from the Chinese city of Wuhan. On February 9th, more Germans from there arrived in Berlin. Two of the first evacuees were infected with the Coronavirus. All of them were in quarantine for two weeks, just in case.

Closure of Borders

International travel has become far form difficult in the past days and hours, as more and more countries closed their borders, including Germany. German nationals and foreigners with residence permits are allowed to cross closed borders into Germany. The same applies to commuters.

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