The Lifting of Quarantine Rules: Who does it Apply to?
The lifting of quarantine rules is currently in process. As of today (May 15th) the borders with North Rhine-Westphalia have changed dramatically. It is now the case that people from other EU countries / Schengen states and some other European countries will now not need to go through a 14-day domestic quarantine upon entering Germany. The requirement to quarantine when arriving into Germany had been in place since early April and led to a major drop in the number of people crossing the border. However, the lifting of these quarantine rules is an example of how the COVID-19 restrictions are slowly lifting.
The lifting of the quarantine rules applies to people arriving into Germany from the following countries:
- EU states,
- Schengen countries (Iceland, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Norway are also included here)
- United Kingdom.
The rules have already been lifted in North Rhine-Westphalia, but other German states will be following with this easing in the coming days. Interior minister (Mr. Horst Seehofer) has announced that all border crossings with Austria, Denmark, France, Luxembourg and Switzerland will be reopened from Saturday 16th May.
COVID-19 Closing of Borders: What is the Situation at the German Borders?
In Germany the federal states have wide-ranging legal powers, as can be seen by how North Rhine-Westphalia has been able to implement the lifting of quarantine rules before many of the other states. The differing manners by which the external borders have been either closed or restricted demonstrates that it has not been implemented with a “one-size fits all” decision. Whereas the borders with Poland and Czech Republic have faced harder / full closures, the borders with the Netherlands and Belgium have faced restrictions but not full closure. When it comes to the borders with full closures there have been allowances for cross-border commuters, people transporting goods and health workers but otherwise they have been strictly monitored.
The borders with Poland and Czech Republic are not yet open and there has been no set announcement on this front regarding quarantine rules. Currently, the plan is that the borders will be reopened in mid-June and the quarantine requirement will not be needed at this point. However, this situation may also change allowing for earlier reopening. There is hope that the restrictions at these borders will be eased sooner but no formal announcement yet.
The borders that will be reopened (such as France, Switzerland and Austria) will continue having some random checks carried out. There will be a reduction in the amount of coronavirus-related checks, and this should contribute to easing the traffic flow between countries. The border with Luxembourg will have no more restrictions and be opened completely. It is hoped that this lifting of quarantine rules will lead to an increase in cross-border tourism and economic activity. The requirement for people to quarantine for 14 days hindered such activities greatly.
The Lifting of Quarantine Rules: Who does this not Apply to?
Whereas the rules relating to European neighbours are changing, those relating to non-European countries are not. The external borders of the EU will be decided upon at a later date and will be done so in coordination with the EU as a whole. Currently, the date in place for a change on this front is June 15th, however it is hard to say whether this date is set in stone. When it comes to the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis, trying to predict outcomes is a difficult game. In other words, the travel bans in place for non-German citizens or residents from 3rd countries (including the USA, Brazil and all non-EU / Schengen countries) traveling to Germany is still in place.
When it comes to German residents / citizens traveling from 3rd countries, the lifting of quarantine rules does not apply. Should they enter Germany, they will have to commit to a 14-day quarantine. As can be seen from our article on “Breaking Quarantine” there can be serious criminal law consequences for those found breaching quarantine rules.
Is this the Final Decision on Quarantine Rules in Germany?
As stated prior, when it comes to the borders which have not yet reopened the possibility remains open that they could change in the coming weeks. The hope is that by June 15th the borders around Germany will be reopened fully. However, should there be a change in the situation regarding further outbreaks of COVID-19 the controls on borders could be put back in place. The situation is still developing but the hope is that these border openings and the lifting of quarantine rules will point towards a gradual return to normality. We will keep our clients informed should there be any changes in the decision on quarantine rules or on any other requirement relating to immigration laws in Germany.
At Schlun & Elseven Attorneys, our immigration lawyers are committed to providing continuous support and counsel to our clients throughout this crisis. From our offices located in Cologne, Aachen and Düsseldorf, and conference rooms in Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Stuttgart and Frankfurt, we work with clients from all over the world when it comes to residency permit issues and German immigration law matters.
The website for the Robert-Koch Institut is another location where developing information on the COVID-19 crisis in Germany can be located. Information and updates are provided there in both German and English.
If you would like further information on German borders reopening / the lifting of quarantine rules and how this impacts your situation then please contact us directly. We provide legal services in several languages including English and remain active through this crisis to ensure that our clients receive the assistance they deserve. Contact us today for further counsel.