A general COVID-19 test obligation for all entries by airplane to Germany would come into force on Monday night local time, Minister of Health Jens Spahn announced at a press conference on Friday.
The mandatory testing requirement for flight arrivals was originally planned to take effect on Sunday, but is postponed to give travelers and airline companies more time to prepare, said Spahn.
For any air traveler to enter Germany, a negative COVID-19 test had to be presented before departure. “This is a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the virus through travel on vacation and, incidentally, it also serves to protect passengers on the plane,” said Spahn.
Currently, only travelers coming from countries with particularly high infection rates must get tested before boarding, German news agency dpa reported. Flight crews will not be affected by the new requirement, the German health ministry said. Travelers will have to bear the costs of the tests themselves.
Spahn said COVID-19 numbers in Germany were rising too fast and virus variants, such as the more contagious B.1.1.7, made “the situation particularly dangerous”.
Daily COVID-19 infections continued to rise as Germany on Friday registered 21,573 new cases in 24 hours, almost 4,100 more than one week ago, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).
If the country’s infection situation would “continue unchecked, we run the risk that our healthcare system will reach its limits in the course of April,” warned Spahn, also referring to rising numbers of intensive care patients in Germany.
The incidence rate of reported COVID-19 cases in Germany in the past seven days rose to 119.1 per 100,000 inhabitants on Friday, according to RKI, the government agency for disease control and prevention.
“There are very clear signals that this wave can be even worse than the first two waves,” said RKI President Lothar Wieler at the press conference, warning that the COVID-19 situation would even worsen in the coming weeks as the 7-day-incidence stood at just 70 two weeks ago.
“We are only at the beginning of this development. And if we do not take massive countermeasures now, the consequences will be serious,” Wieler warned.