Germany will lift its blanket travel warning for European nations from June 15, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Wednesday, as the continent looks to further ease restrictions imposed to contain the coronavirus.
“We have decided today that the travel warning for the named circle of countries will not be continued but replaced by travel advice,” Maas said, referring to EU nations plus a handful of countries in the region including Switzerland and Iceland.
The warning will be replaced by advice for individual nations, “provided that there are no longer any entry bans or large-scale lockdowns in the respective countries,” he said.
Germany will also be watching contagion data very carefully, he added, saying that warnings could be reintroduced if new infections were to reach 50 per 100,000 people in a week in the country concerned.
Germany introduced an unprecedented warning against all foreign travel in mid-March as part of measures to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
But with new infections sharply down, the government is looking for ways to get the economy up and running again.
Germany reported just 342 new cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday – down from more than 6,000 a day at the height of new infections in March.
The European Union set out plans in May for a phased restart of travel this summer, with EU border controls eventually lifted and measures to minimize the risks of infection, like wearing face masks on shared transport.
Some countries have already started reopening their borders in a bid to revive the embattled tourism industry.
Italy reopened to travellers from Europe on Wednesday, and Austria is lifting restrictions in mid-June with Germany, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.
However, Maas continued to urge caution. “I know that this decision raises great hope and expectations but I want to say again: Travel warnings are not travel bans, and travel advice is not an invitation to travel.”
Other countries, such as Belgium and Britain, are still advising against, or forbidding, all non-essential travel abroad.