Germany to start mandatory coronavirus testing of travellers this week

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Mandatory testing of travellers returning to Germany from countries with a high risk of COVID-19 infection will take effect later this week, Health Minister Jens Spahn said.

“We have first drafts. We want to coordinate this well with the states because they need to be able to implement it at airports and train stations,” he told German broadcaster ARD on Monday.

Last week, Berlin’s Tegel airport began large scale coronavirus testing on Wednesday, as airports across Germany prepared for the advent of free, compulsory testing for many passengers from next week.

Two rooms were set aside for tests, but an airport spokeswoman said a larger space was being prepared, indicating that authorities are preparing for testing to remain a fixture for a long time to come.

“These rooms are of course a bit small, as you can see,” said spokeswoman Sabine Deckwerth. “That is why the large Terminal D in Tegel is being prepared to host a bigger one.”

An increase in the number of infections across Europe has dashed the hopes of airlines and tourist destinations such as Spain for a relatively quick return to mass tourism after months of lockdown.

Airports such as Frankfurt, Germany’s busiest, have been offering tests over the previous weeks, but now preparations are gearing up across the country for the testing of passengers arriving from countries deemed high risk that is due to begin next week.

On Tuesday, Germany’s top public health official scolded the public for their lack of discipline in adhering to social distancing practices and wearing masks that can slow the spread of the highly contagious disease in the absence of a vaccine.

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