As COVID-19 coronavirus continues to sweep its way around Europe, Germany is just one of many countries that has now issued a temporary travel ban. With the number of official COVID-19 cases exceeding 10,000 in Germany, the government has announced that German borders will close.
This is an unprecedented step and is illustrative of how serious the COVID-19 outbreak is. In this article we will outline what this closure means, who is most impacted, how borders within the Schengen Zone are impacted and how long this travel ban to Germany will last.
This article is one of a series of articles we are issuing as this crisis develops. It is a difficult time for everyone and we aim to keep our clients informed about developments in Germany as they happen. This will ensure that they are kept up-to-date and that they are aware of how to respond to any legal issues that may arise due to the continuing crisis.
If you have a particular issue or legal question concerning events related to the COVID-19 coronavirus, please contact our law office directly. Our lawyers can be reached by phone, email and also provide video conferencing options. For more legal information on the Corona crisis, please visit our Crisis Dashboard.
Travel Ban to Germany: What does it Mean?
On Tuesday, 17th March, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that the German borders would close for one month. The aim of this travel ban to Germany is to reduce the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus. This reduction of the spread of the virus is aimed at providing relief to the German health system as cases of COVID-19 continue to grow.
The ban excludes German citizens or EU citizens / citizens of countries such as Iceland, Andorra, Liechtenstein, the UK, Switzerland and Norway. Therefore, the ban is designed for people coming from third countries. However, the ban does not extend to people from third countries who have a long-term right-of-residence in Germany or other Schengen countries.
This travel ban to Germany has been introduced amongst a range of steps taken by the countries in the European Union and in the Schengen Zone. The legal justification for the travel ban can be found through § 6 Schengen Borders Code which lists “threats to public health” as a grounds for a countries within the Schengen Zone to close their borders.
The travel ban to Germany means that people from third countries will not be allowed into Germany without there being an urgent reason for their entry. Should they not have a valid reason, these people from third countries will be refused entry to Germany. Checks will be made to ensure that this occurs. This travel ban to Germany extends to sea and air travel including those with transit journeys involving Germany.
Travel Ban to Germany: How Long will it Last?
This travel ban to Germany has been put in place for one month however, it is impossible to know what the situation will be like in one month’s time. Germany is taking drastic steps to reduce the spread of the virus by closing schools, shutting non-essential shops and encouraging social isolation.
However, at the time of writing, the number of cases of COVID-19 coronavirus is increasing every day in Germany and around the European Union. In the short-term these case numbers will continue to rise and therefore it is difficult to predict how the EU will respond as the situation develops. At the moment the travel ban to Germany is in place for one month but it is not impossible that it will be extended. We will keep our clients informed as to how this situation will develop.
Travel Ban to Germany: German Borders Closing
Even within the EU there are now huge disruptions when it comes to travel. Earlier this week Germany closed its borders to Austria, Denmark, France, Luxembourg and Switzerland. Czech Republic and Poland had previously announced that they were closing their border to Germany. It is likely, that as the virus continues to spread, that further measures will be taken in the near future.
What this means is that travel between Germany and these countries is now heavily disrupted and long queues have been reported at some of these borders. Goods will continue to be allowed to cross the borders as will commuters but there will be long delays and major disruptions. Furthermore, German citizens who are currently in any of the neighboring nations have the legal right to cross the border in order to return to Germany. The same rules also apply to foreign nationals who hold a legitimate German residence permit.
Travel Restrictions from Germany: Short-Term Visas
For anyone staying in Germany on a short-term Schengen Visa or Business Visa please make sure to check the deadline for your visa. With borders closing it may be difficult to get out of Germany right now. Staying illegally beyond the end of a visa can have huge consequences and therefore it is vital to resolve this issue.
Normally it is very difficult to get an extension on a Schengen Visa but these current times are not what can be considered normal. With borders closing and travel bans to Germany and from Germany in place it can be possible to avail of an extension due to the principle of “force majeure” (Act of God). Please read our article: “Visa Extensions in Germany due to COVID-19 Coronavirus” for more information. If you find yourself in this situation and need to discuss your options, then please contact our firm directly.
Immigration to Germany
It is vital to emphasise that this is a temporary measure. Germany is generally a country that is open, accepting and encouraging when it comes to people moving here from abroad. At Schlun & Elseven, we are a firm which places great emphasis on immigration law and in business immigration when it comes to firms moving to Germany. Remember: this difficult time will pass and the travel ban to Germany will be removed eventually. When Germany is back and ready for business our immigration lawyers will be available to assist you with your immigration questions, issues and applications.
For our clients in Germany with a valid and long-term residence permits, please be aware that our firm is active during this difficult time. If you have any legal questions concerning COVID-19 then you should contact us directly. Our lawyers will support you and provide you with the legal advice required.
German Immigration Law Firm
Schlun & Elseven Attorneys is a multidisciplinary German law firm with offices in Cologne, Düsseldorf and Aachen. During the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis we will provide regular updates to legal developments in Germany and they can be found on our COVID-19 Coronavirus and German Law page.
Should you require advice, counsel or support on issues relating to German immigration law or have issues relating to the travel ban to Germany please contact our firm directly. We provide our services in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese and Turkish. As stated above we have services in place whereby we can keep in contact from distance. We are looking forward to hearing from you.