Which travel restrictions apply and where will they be relaxed again?
Because of the corona pandemic, the federal government had one in mid-March global travel warning pronounced for tourist trips and provisionally extended until June 14th. Shortly before that, depending on the crisis situation, a decision will then be taken about the summer vacation, which begins in the first federal states at the end of June. If you booked a trip abroad at Pentecost, it is easier to cancel free of charge due to the travel warning.
Germany also had Entry bans put in place and strict border controls set up, but these are loosened from May 16 and are to be lifted entirely on June 15 – if the number of infections continues to decline. The border with Luxembourg is already completely open. According to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Germany is also prepared to stop controls at the German-Danish border “as soon as the Danish government has carried out ongoing consultations with its neighboring countries”. Germans should continue to do without tourist trips abroad in the coming weeks.
If the number of new infections in Germany’s neighboring regions increases sharply, it will also be checked more intensively. The guideline applicable here in Germany of more than 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants provides orientation in seven days.
Since April 10th Returnees in Germany are initially quarantined for two weeks. These The regulation is now partially omittedfor those who come from EU countries, Great Britain, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein or Switzerland. The federal and state governments had agreed that there would only be one recommendation for a quarantine for travelers from areas with high infection rates, a spokesman for the Federal Ministry of the Interior said on May 15. A detailed regulation is being drawn up for this. Until then, the obligation would only apply to those arriving from outside the EU or outside the Schengen area.
For leaving Germany to Poland and Czech Republic Strict restrictions still apply, for Poland until about June 12th. Germany, Austria and Switzerland will relax the rules for cross-border traffic on May 16. As the Federal Ministry of the Interior announced, crossing the border in both directions is now possible again if you want to visit your life partner or relatives or if you want to take part in important family events. The same applies to owners of self-used properties and allotments, of agricultural, hunting or forest areas or people who have to look after animals in another country. If you want to make use of one of these easing measures, you have to fill out a self-declaration and present it at a checkpoint at the border crossing. The form can be downloaded from the Federal Police website and printed out.
If the development of the Corona crisis permits, all remaining travel restrictions between Germany, Austria, Switzerland and France are to be lifted on June 15, 2020. What until then at the internal borders in detail applies, the federal police have summarized here.
Spain has loosened the entry ban in mid-May, but has stipulated a two-week quarantine requirement for immigrants while the state of emergency is still ongoing. Italy wants to let EU citizens cross the border again from 3 June.
They had themselves in Germany Federal government and the federal states in fighting the spread of the virus Prohibitions and exit restrictions agreed – again in May gradually loosened or lifted were.
The external borders of the European union are cordoned off, the ban applies to all flights and ship trips that originate outside the EU. There are exceptions for citizens of Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Great Britain. The federal police inform who is currently allowed to enter Germany and which documents are required.
The Federal Foreign Office provides information on the restrictions applicable worldwide on its website in the travel and security information for the respective countries, and the consulates sometimes offer even more up-to-date information.
In what time period are organizers currently canceling trips – and when should it start again?
The decision was made to “suspend the majority of all travel activities, including package tours, cruises and hotel operations,” the Tui Group announced in March – worldwide. At first the stop was valid until the end of March, meanwhile it has Tui Germany canceled all trips in Germany by May 24th, abroad by June 14th. After that, the company plans to offer trips to Mallorca and cruises in the North and Baltic Seas as soon as possible – when vacation abroad is possible again.
Also Studiosus and THE tourism (Dertour, ITS, Jahn Reisen, Meiers Weltreisen and ADAC Reisen) are now canceling their international trips until June 14th, as are those FTI Group (FTI Touristik, 5vorFlug, BigXtra and LAL language trips) as well Schauinsland Reisen, Vikings travel and Gebeco. Alltours has canceled his flights by mid-June in accordance with the travel warning, trips from the individual program up to and including May 24th.
If package tours and flights are canceled by the organizer, the price must be reimbursed. So there were massive demands in the industry Vouchers instead of allowing reimbursements to reduce the financial burden on businesses. On April 2, the “Corona Cabinet” of the federal government introduced a corresponding regulation – but has since refrained from doing so after the EU Commission refuses to give its consent. Vouchers should remain voluntary for reasons of consumer protection, so the tenor from Brussels, but should be designed so that they become interesting for customers as an alternative to reimbursement, for example through insolvency protection, flexible portability and the right to repayment if the voucher is not used becomes. In Germany, some big tour operators like Tui, FTI or DER Touristik advertise with bonus payments for their voluntary voucher models.
Customers who want to cancel a trip planned in the coming months due to the current situation, however, have to expect cancellation fees. The amount depends on how soon the departure is imminent. However, more and more organizers are offering a free rebooking.
(In this article, you will read detailed information on travel law issues relating to travel in the coming months.)
Who pays the cancellation of the trip if, due to changed entry regulations, you can no longer come to the holiday destination?
At Package tours the organizer is obliged to either pay back the price or offer a rebooking – German travel law applies here. Because of the exceptional circumstances, customers will not receive any compensation for lost vacation pleasure.
Individual travelers however, have themselves booked a hotel or rental car and are therefore confronted with the respective national laws. According to German law, you would not have to pay anything if you cannot use the services. “This is the case, for example, if the accommodation is in a restricted area and cannot be reached,” says the consumer center. If a contract was made directly with landlords abroad, the law of the respective country applies – here it is, for example It is important whether the contract is canceled due to the worldwide travel warning from the German Foreign Office. Depending on the cancellation conditions, those affected may have to hope for goodwill or try to negotiate that the hotel stay, for example, is only postponed and not canceled at a high price.
Anyone on a German speaking Hotel portal has booked accommodation on the Internet or at the hotel directly, for example in Italy, the law of the place of accommodation applies, i.e. Italian law. Travel law expert Ernst Führich advises holidaymakers to contact the accommodation company and insist on a fee-free cancellation of the stay due to the domicile being unavailable. Italy, however, by decree of March 8, 2020, allowed accommodation companies to issue vouchers instead of reimbursements for the travel price paid.
In the event of a dispute, an exception can also be brought to the consumer’s place of residence. However, the prerequisite is that the guest has booked on an interactive website of the foreign hotelier or holiday home provider in Germany. Then the activity of the accommodation company is “aligned” to Germany in the sense of the EU jurisdiction agreement. The German court then applies Italian law.
It should look good for individual travelers, though Airlines are involved, says travel law expert Paul Degott: if a country has imposed an entry ban or deleted visas for Germans, the airline can no longer transport the passenger to their destination. Otherwise, it would have to take care of the return transport immediately and would also face a penalty from the target country. “So the contract has to be reversed beforehand”, the passengers get their money back for the ticket, explains Degott.
What about airlines, long-distance buses and cruises at the moment?
In Europe and around the world, travelers are being slowed down by the virus: if connections are canceled, passengers get all their money back.
The Lufthansa has drastically reduced their offer, passengers should check the current status of their flight. Lufthansa extended its fuselage flight schedule to May 31, all flights from the regular schedule will be canceled by this date. The daughter Austrian Airlines poses just like Brussels Airlines regular flight operations until May 31st. Eurowings will again start connecting to the Mediterranean in mid-May. From June onwards, the airline group will again fly to 106 short- and medium-haul destinations with Lufthansa, Eurowings and Swiss, the company said – including Mallorca, Sylt and Crete. Over the course of June, the company plans to offer long-haul destinations from Munich again, increasing the number of destinations to 130 worldwide. No matter where: Anyone flying in the near future must wear a protective mask throughout.
Even the holiday pilot Condor is hardly on the move due to the pandemic. The company still sent planes to bring vacationers back – then it offered “harvest workers” tickets to farmers who depend on foreign workers. Condor also flies to Palma de Mallorca, Tenerife and Gran Canaria. The regular flight schedule is suspended until May 28 for short and medium-haul flights and until June 25 for long-haul flights.
British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, Vueling and Level canceled at least 75 percent of their flights in April and May. Air France-KLM cuts 90 percent during this period. Lot Airlines have largely stopped flight operations. Also Easyjet and Ryanair, the two largest low-cost airlines in Europe, are decommissioning the majority of their fleets – with Easyjet, all planes have been on the ground since March 30th.
Ryanair plans to restart flight operations on July 1, when 40 percent of regular flights will resume, provided that governments relax travel restrictions on flights within the EU and at airports to introduce health protection measures. According to their own statements, Ryanair would then offer almost 1,000 flights a day, covering 90 percent of the routes that the airline had operated before the Corona crisis.
The long-distance bus companies Flixbus and Blablabus have stopped operating. All national and cross-border connections to and from Germany will be suspended.
Most Cruises fail until further notice: So has about Aida cruises all journeys of its 14-ship fleet have since been canceled by the end of June. Also the Tui cruises has canceled all cruises, but is planning around the Baltic and North Sea tours as soon as possible.
Who pays if the return flight has been canceled and the traveler had to organize a more expensive return?
Airlines worldwide have cut their flight programs extremely. As a result, normal return flights were canceled, so that the passengers could not start their journey home during the Corona crisis. Customers of an EU airline stands after the Passenger Rights Regulation to the fact that the airline not only pays back the money for the canceled flight, “but also takes care of the care of the passengers and places them, for example, in a hotel if necessary – and above all ensures a replacement flight,” explains travel law expert Paul Degott. If the airline does not care or does not take care of package tours by the organizers or not quickly enough, holidaymakers can search for a return flight themselves. Only: The few places on return flights to Germany were scarce, so the prices rose; in addition, single flights are generally much more expensive than round-trip packages. Anyone who has booked their canceled flight with an airline based in the EU can claim the additional costs back from the airline. “It is important that the airline is given a remedial period and the so-called replacement is threatened so that the initially submitted costs can be claimed as damages or sued,” says Degott. In view of the volatile situation as in the corona crisis, a few hours were enough.
Degott emphasizes that even if the airline is based outside the EU, travelers could rely on these regulations, provided that it is a return flight booked in Germany. However, if a flight ticket from New Zealand to Germany has been booked in New Zealand and the flight is then canceled, the civil law of the respective country applies.
How does train travel change in the corona crisis?
The Deutsche Bahn had to reduce their offer, not only in international long-distance transport. Also the Regional traffic was restricted: In some federal states, the reduced schedule was valid until May 3, in others the number of trains rose again earlier. You can find an overview of current developments at Bahn here at bahn.de/aktuell. Travelers and commuters should always check whether their train is actually running before departure.
Due to the stricter entry regulations, Deutsche Bahn has to end or cancel a number of train connections earlier, e.g. trips to Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Poland and the Czech Republic. The number of trains between Germany and the Netherlands has also been drastically reduced. In addition, intercity trains no longer run between Amsterdam via North Rhine-Westphalia to Berlin, the Dutch rail company said. There are also fewer connections on other international routes.
Customers can postpone or cancel trips free of charge: Deutsche Bahn has theirs Cancellation rules largely relaxed. No one has to go to the sales outlets in the train stations in a hurry: “The goodwill regulations will apply in the coming weeks, so it is not necessary to report immediately,” the company emphasizes. Refunds could also be submitted after the booked day of travel.
Regardless of the travel destination, saver price and super saver tickets can be exchanged for vouchers. In contrast to flexible tickets at the normal price, this is not easily possible. For long-distance journeys after May 4, the following now applies: Customers can postpone their trip and use the tickets flexibly until October 31 – provided they were bought before March 13. The train commitment is also removed for the saver prices. Previously, the railways accepted these tickets by June 30th.
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The trains of Flixtrain do not drive for the time being. And the Austrian Federal Railways ÖBB have suspended train services to and from Italy, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia and Switzerland until further notice. International tickets valid until June 1st can be canceled free of charge.
The Italian railway companies also meet customers: Trenitalia already announced in February that train journeys will be fully reimbursed regardless of the tariff. Anyone who has booked a ticket for a high-speed or long-distance train will receive a voucher with a validity of one year, for regional train tickets there will be a cash refund.
What preventive measures does Deutsche Bahn take against the corona virus? Passengers are currently required to wear face-to-face masks on all long-distance and regional trains. If the authorities find a suspected corona on a train, the affected area will be blocked and professionally cleaned and disinfected after the trip, the company reports. The passengers would then be informed by the train staff that they should store their details (via bahn.de/corona or by calling 0800 5 14 15 14) so that the authorities can contact them if necessary.
What does the Federal Foreign Office advise?
- Because of the corona crisis, the federal government has one global travel warning pronounced.
- Changes to the entry and quarantine regulations in other countries would be enacted in some cases without prior notice and with immediate effect.
- Tourists should immediately use existing flight connections to return to Germany as quickly as possible.
- Travelers should register in the crisis preparedness list and keep the contact details up to date. On the way you should keep up to date on the situation in the country, for example via the Office’s Safe Travel app.
- Travel health insurance coverage should be reviewed and, if necessary, extended to be recalled.
- In addition, it is advisable to organize a sufficient supply of necessary medication for the case of an extended stay abroad.
- Travelers should be prepared for possible additional costs for an extended stay and should increase their credit line now.
- Anyone returning home should get information from the Federal Police and the Interior Ministry about quarantine, travel restrictions and border controls. After a stay of several days abroad, a two-week quarantine obligation applies at home – however, according to the Interior Ministry, this should be lifted for travelers within the EU and only apply to third countries.
For more information, travelers can find information sheet COVID-19, the Robert Koch Institute, the WHO and the Federal Center for Health Education.
What if I come back from abroad?
Since April 10th Returnees – except commuters – in domestic quarantine for two weeks – this regulation is now partially repealed, for travelers from EU and Schengen countries as well as from Great Britain. Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer recommended on May 13 to the responsible federal states to loosen the quarantine rules that had previously applied and only apply to people who had previously been in third countries.
The topic is the responsibility of the federal states. According to the state government of North Rhine-Westphalia, the specific infection events abroad will once again be given greater consideration in future. Returnees from other countries would also be exempt from the quarantine obligation if the Robert Koch Institute determined for these states that quarantine was not necessary. Conversely, a renewed intensification of the pandemic in EU member states and Schengen countries could lead to protective measures being taken again with regard to these countries.
From the quarantine rule affected returnees are obliged“Immediately after entering the country you should go straight to your own home or another suitable accommodation and to continuously separate yourself there for a period of 14 days after your arrival”, says the regulation. During this time it was “not allowed to receive visitors from people who do not belong to their household”. There are exceptions for nurses, for example.
If you come by plane or ship, you must announce the route and contact details Health authorities at his place of residence should then monitor compliance with the quarantine.
Fines depend on the extent of the “extent of the public health hazards caused by the crime”, whether the person concerned has acted negligently or is unreasonable and whether there is a recurrence. Anyone who violates the requirement of domestic quarantine after entering the country should be loud Fines catalog pay between 500 euros and 10,000 euros. Violations of the ban on visits should be punished with a fine of at least 300 euros and a maximum of 5000 euros. If someone does not drive directly home, he should pay 150 euros to 3000 euros. Anyone who does not meet their obligation to contact the health authority must expect a fine of between 150 euros and 3,000 euros.
Who pays for the additional costs if vacationers were stuck in the hotel or on the cruise ship in quarantine for longer than expected?
Package holidaymakers are again better protected here: If they had to be in quarantine during their regular travel time, they could list this as a defect and get money back. However, they would have to inform the organizer on the spot, who in turn could try to recover the amount from the authorities who had ordered the quarantine. The paragraph also sees 651q BGB The organizer is obliged to assist, legal expert Degott explains: A package tour operator, for example, has to make sure that his customers come home with different return flights than planned. If the guests have to stay in quarantine longer than their rooms are booked and the hotel operator requests money, holidaymakers should not pay: the state that ordered the quarantine is responsible for this. Therefore, individual travelers would not have to pay for their longer forced stay – but probably for other return flights, unless the airline shows goodwill.
For example, in the case of the Costa Adeje Palace hotel in Tenerife, where guests had to stay for two weeks in March, the Tui had paid the costs for their package travelers, according to a press spokesman, and they would not have paid a surcharge for more expensive return flights, at least in this individual case have to.