Germany Prepares for ‘Mandatory’ Corona Tests

The preparation for ‘mandatory’ Corona tests at German airports, train stations and bus terminals is in full swing. Starting later this week, those tests will be compulsory for people who return from high risk regions and intend to move around freely.

Since last week, more than 2,000 passengers who came in from high risk countries were tested for Corona infections at Tegel Airport in Berlin and Schönefeld Airport in Brandenburg. The outcome is that close to one percent tested positive.

Numbers Show Importance

What this means is that, statistically speaking, there are about 1.5 infected persons on each flight from high risk regions to Berlin. In spite of the mask rule, the Coronavirus has a lot of opportunity. The numbers show why these ‘mandatory’ tests are so important, and why it is dangerous to fly to high risk countries or back to Germany. At North Rhine-Westphalia’s airports, even 2.5 percent of all people who entered Germany from high risk countries were infected with Corona.

The federal government intends to start ‘compulsory’ tests for passengers who come in from those regions, where the Corona situation is either difficult or out of control. It is supposed to happen this week, but there was still no exact date on Tuesday morning. Health Minister Jens Spahn said it was important to be prepared well, as Germany’s federal states were working on the implementation.

Returning from Turkey

What is being called ‘mandatory Corona test’ is actually not mandatory. Passengers returning from those high risk countries have to go into quarantine if they do not have negative Corona test results to show. They can also skip the testing and go straight into quarantine. But this does not make much sense, also because the state is paying for the tests. By implication, the tests are compulsory for those who want to walk around freely.

Thousands of passengers from regions with high Corona infection numbers fly into Germany every day, which makes the task of testing them all rather difficult. At the two airports in and around Berlin alone, 2,000 passengers per day are part of this category. For instance, many Turks and Germans with Turkish roots are returning from family visits in Turkey, which is a high risk country. The same applies to travelers who have relatives in Kosovo or Serbia. Because the summer vacations are ending, countless people are returning from those countries.

Lots of Tests in North Rhine-Westphalia

At Tegel Airport, a Corona testing facility has been up and running since Wednesday of last week, at Schönefeld Airport since Friday. The Charité hospital is running those centers, and the invoice is being picked up by the state. In North Rhine-Westphalia, up to half of all passengers flying in from high risk regions are having themselves tested right now.

The entire world is a high-risk region, from the perspective of Germany, except for most European Union members states (Luxemburg is a high risk country, three regions in Spain are ‘high risk’ as well) and non-E.U. Schengen countries such as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland. Andorra, Monaco, San Martino and the Vatican are ‘safe’ as well, as safe as any country or region can be during the Corona pandemic.

Tests at Berlin’s Bus Terminal

According to the Health Ministry in Berlin, the ‘mandatory’ tests (for passengers arriving from high risk regions who do not want to be in quarantine), will be checked randomly. Checking everyone is not feasible, according to a spokesperson. But the government believes most passengers will have themselves tested.

Yesterday, Berlin introduced Corona tests at the bus terminal for long-distance trips. The city state is also preparing a test center at its giant central station.

Other federal states, including Bavaria, are on the case as well. At Munich Airport, free Corona tests are already available, the airports in Nuremberg and Memmingen are being prepared. The same applies to train stations, bus terminals and even border crossings on the Autobahn. Many returnees from the Balkans, a high risk region, are coming in through Bavaria.

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