Germany hits British visitors with quarantine restrictions

UK becomes classified as a 'variant zone' of Covid-19

Arrivals from the UK will have to finish a two-week quarantine, whether they are vaccinated or not. Photo: DPA
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Britain has been added to Germany’s list of high-risk countries for coronavirus outbreaks, meaning UK travellers intending to visit will have to go into quarantine.

The move, which becomes effective at midnight on Monday (11pm GMT Sunday), means arrivals from the UK will have to finish a two-week quarantine whether or not they are vaccinated, said the country's health agency, the Robert Koch Institute.

Britain is reeling from steeply rising numbers of new Covid cases and a French ban on non-emergency travel that came into force on Saturday.

“The United Kingdom and Northern Ireland are very strongly affected by Covid-19. A new variant, very contagious, has also been found,” the German Foreign Affairs ministry said.

Under the German system, the UK is now considered a “variant zone” of Covid, a category reserved for nations where the risk is the highest.

“The spread of Omicron in the UK is very evident … We have to prevent the spread for as long as possible and slow it down as much as possible,” regional health ministers said.

Only Germans or other citizens residing in Germany will be allowed into the country from Britain without going into isolation.

The rule applies to all means of transport and a PCR test will be required for everyone travelling to Germany. The Robert Koch Institute said the restrictions could last until at least January 3.

There were 90,418 confirmed new UK coronavirus cases on Saturday, short of Friday's peak but a stark jump from 54,073 a week earlier.

The UK government also released scientific papers suggesting hundreds of thousands of people are catching the Omicron strain every day.

And London’s city leaders declared a “major incident” owing to the spread of Omicron. At least seven people were confirmed to have died from the variant, which is now the dominant strain in England and London.

The Netherlands announced on Saturday it was entering a strict lockdown over Christmas and New Year as it tries to slow the spread of the Omicron variant.

All non-essential shops and services, including restaurants, hairdressers, museums and gyms will be closed from Sunday until January 14.

Updated: December 19, 2021, 7:51 AM