A.In view of the sharp rise in the number of , Europeans are threatened with a new wave of travel restrictions. The summer holidays are drawing to a close on the continent, and the number of corona infections is rising sharply with the returning tourists. In Germany alone, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), 39 percent of new infections are due to returnees from abroad.

Finland was the first country to reintroduce new border controls. They apply from Monday to travelers from Germany, Greece and Denmark, among others. Anyone entering Finland from there is not only checked, but also has to be quarantined for 14 days. The same applies to entries into Latvia and Lithuania.

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Such restrictions cannot be ruled out in Germany either – although the federal government wants to prevent them as far as possible. When asked whether entry and exit restrictions are still conceivable as a measure against the pandemic, a spokesman for the Federal Ministry of the Interior replied that the Federal Government is monitoring the development of the pandemic very closely and is constantly adapting the measures. “At the moment there are no considerations to reintroduce provisional internal border controls.”

Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) also wants to prevent this as much as possible. At a meeting with French President , she said that one wanted to “politically avoid at all costs” that the borders in Europe would have to be closed again. “But that assumes that we act in a coordinated manner.” In the case of the three Baltic Sea neighbors, it doesn’t look like that.

Merkel criticizes different regulations

In Germany too, the discussion about travel restrictions could flare up again if local corona hotspots are to be contained. Most recently, in connection with the corona outbreaks in North Rhine-Westphalia and Bavaria, travel bans for residents of severely affected districts were discussed.

Merkel had campaigned for this measure as an alternative to bans on accommodation for the residents of such hotspots in other parts of the country. However, several prime ministers strongly opposed this.

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On Thursday, the Prime Ministers will again speak to the Chancellor about measures to contain the pandemic. This time, the preliminary debate is mainly about bans on private celebrations. It is not known whether the travel question will also be discussed. Merkel recently criticized the fact that there are different regulations in the respective federal states “and that people do not understand that”.

The Bavarian way is one of these local regulations. The Free State itself had considered local exit restrictions for affected areas. In fact, the sixth Bavarian Infection Protection Measures Ordinance stipulates that the State Ministry of Health “can announce districts, municipalities or demarcated parts of the municipality within Germany where there is an increased risk of infection with the Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus due to data on infection protection law”.

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The tourism industry suffers particularly from measures

A spokeswoman for the ministry told WELT for residents of these circles that the government in Bavaria could issue an accommodation ban. The ordinance has been in force since August 15. Stricter travel restrictions are also possible in Bavaria. In the event of a local outbreak, “an exit restriction based on the Infection Protection Act could be issued,” said the spokeswoman.

Originally, as one of the first measures against the Covid 19 pandemic, the Federal Republic of Germany introduced controls at the borders with most of the neighboring countries on March 16. This triggered a heated political debate in Berlin and also brought criticism from business associations to the government.

Financially, the travel restrictions hit the tourism industry particularly hard. The holiday and business travel business almost completely collapsed across Europe in the spring. However, there were extensive exceptions for logistics and industry. The aim of the policy was to maintain Europe-wide supply chains and not to endanger the production processes of the industry through such restrictions.

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The controls were finally lifted again in mid-June. However, the travel restrictions actually imposed were never as severe as originally announced by the Federal Ministry of the Interior. That shows the answer of the federal government to a small question of the left in the Bundestag from the end of July. This shows that the federal police at the border have not issued any instructions from the government on how to deal with people who cannot provide an urgent reason to leave the country.

The Ministry of the Interior’s website originally said: “Travelers without an urgent reason to travel are no longer allowed to enter and leave the internal borders with Austria, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg and Denmark.” This is the wording used by the officials of Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU ) later removed.

Extreme example Australia

Other countries have consistently put such announcements into practice. The most extreme example is probably Australia. There has been an extensive travel ban for citizens of their own country since March 25th. Anyone who wants to leave the continent since then has to apply to the state to leave the country. The authorities approved only 22,640 of 91,950 applications by the end of July, writes the “Sydney Morning Herald”.

Australian media are full of reports of locals complaining bitterly about the government’s tough stance – for example, because they haven’t been able to visit their relatives abroad for months. For immigrants staying in Australia with visas, the rules are less strict.

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The German way of relying on the responsible citizen instead of drastic bans shifts responsibility to the individual. Anyone who travels despite government warnings must be aware of the economic risks. This is especially true for employees. The Federal Government is acting with two travel lists: The list of travel warnings on the website of the Federal Foreign Office is, among other things, a signal that organized package tours can no longer take place in the countries concerned.

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The second list, on which the risk areas are recorded (on the RKI website), has an impact above all on those returning to Germany: Those who return to Germany from one of these countries must expect two weeks of quarantine. The list includes Turkey and Spain, with the exception of the Canary Islands.

Employees who are subjected to this form of quarantine cannot rely on their wages being paid during this time. Because, unlike a quarantine due to a Covid 19 disease or a suspicion, the return travel quarantine is not a state-imposed work ban. This means that the employer does not receive any compensation for the wages that he pays his employee during this time. And he does not have to pay it in the event of a holiday quarantine.

In addition, travelers are likely to be asked to pay for the corona test at the airport in the future. The Rhineland-Palatinate Prime Minister Malu Dreyer (SPD) and other state governments are calling for the tests not to be financed from tax revenues. The trip to the Ballermann this autumn can be really expensive when you return.

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