The German government will make coronavirus tests compulsory for people arriving in the country from high-risk areas from next week.
The government had said over the weekend that it was examining the legality of making testing mandatory, and whether it went against people’s rights.
On Monday (27 July) evening, federal health minister Jens Spahn said that he would order compulsory testing for travellers returning from risk areas. The regulation should come into force next week and the tests will be free of charge.
"We must prevent travel returnees from infecting others unnoticed and thus triggering new chains of infection," said Spahn in a tweet.
In terms of the legality of compulsory tests, they can be mandated under a rule in the Protection Against Infection law, which refers to obligatory testing in an ‘epidemic situation of national importance.’
With increasing numbers of Germans returning from vacations in Europe, especially from Spain, fears are growing that the country could be gripped by a second wave of the virus.
Unlike the UK, which has now ordered a 14-day quarantine period for people arriving back from Spain, it has yet not been designated as a “high-risk” area by Germany.
However, Germany’s foreign office advises against unnecessary tourist trips to the autonomous regions of Aragon, Catalonia, and Navarra due to the high number of infections.
Germany’s swift and decisive nationwide lockdowns and mass testing is seen as two main reasons why the country’s death toll from COVID-19 is much lower than other large EU countries.
Germany has had just over 207,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, and the number of deaths, as per the latest data from Johns Hopkins University, stands at a little over 9,100.
However, last weekend saw a spike, with 815 new cases on Friday (24 July) and 781 on Saturday (25 July), the highest daily spikes since mid-May. On Tuesday, the number of new cases also doubled to 633 with the head of Germany's Robert Koch Institute (RKI) blaming an increase of social contact in workplaces and at parties.
Germany’s public health institute currently labels around 130 countries as “risk areas,” including the majority of states in the US.