Corona and travel: Holidays with risk – economy

From

Sibylle Haas

The corona pandemic is driving up the number of infections and the number of risk areas is increasing. Nevertheless, many people do not want to do without the vacation trip. In some federal states the autumn holidays are coming to an end, in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg they are just beginning. In addition, some are already thinking about where to spend their winter holidays and whether they should travel at all. Some employers would like to ban their employees from vacation travel altogether. But is that even possible? What can bosses ask of their employees and what rights do employees have? Legal experts give the answers.

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Corona: What Austria vacationers need to know – travel

At the end of July, Austria made Corona headlines. At Lake Wolfgang, interns who worked in gastronomy had celebrated extensively and not only infected each other, but also other people. But this time it is not a small tourist town in which the path of the virus was comparatively easy to understand, but the number of newly infected people is increasing across the country. The Robert Koch Institute has classified the federal states of Vienna, Vorarlberg and Tyrol as risk areas, and the Foreign Office issued a travel warning. What does this mean for vacationers from Germany? The most important questions and answers.

Is it still allowed to travel to Vienna, Vorarlberg and Tyrol?

The Federal Foreign Office warns against unnecessary tourist trips to the affected regions, but does not prohibit them. A travel warning is intended as an “urgent appeal” not to travel, as the Foreign Office puts it. In connection with the corona pandemic, it is pronounced when drastic restrictions on public life, quarantine measures and an increased risk of infection are to be expected.

Austria holidaymakers do not have to return home, but package travelers in the risk area could: If during the holiday “a sudden hotspot occurs at the travel destination, so that there is a risk to life and limb, there are exceptional, unavoidable circumstances” that entitle them to accept the travel contract cancel, informs the Federal Association of Consumer Organizations. The money for unused services must be reimbursed and, if contractually agreed, the return transport must be organized by the travel provider.

What is the infection situation in the country?

The number of new infections in Austria has increased significantly in recent weeks. On September 26, 714 new cases were reported, of which 297 in Vienna, 61 in Tyrol and 29 in Vorarlberg. The numbers are also comparatively high in Lower and Upper Austria. Around 8,200 people are currently infected nationwide – a good three times more than in Germany if you put the numbers in relation to the population. The “Corona traffic light” shows which regions are affected by Covid 19 infections and how severely.

Which anti-corona requirements apply in Austria?

In the meantime, the masks were a little more relaxed, and in view of the increasing numbers, the measures were tightened again. Nationwide, the mouth and nose must now be covered in all shops, as well as in buses and trains and in generally accessible indoor areas of accommodation providers. Masks are also required for employees in the catering industry. Inside, food and drinks may only be served at seats. In the federal states of Vorarlberg, Tyrol and Salzburg, the curfew is brought forward for at least three weeks: since September 25, restaurants have to close at 10 p.m. In the rest of the country it stays at one o’clock.

Are there any restrictions on entry?

Entry from Germany, as well as transit through Austria, is still possible without restrictions. The following also applies: Anyone who was in a region classified by Austria as a risk area in the ten days before crossing the border and now wants to stay in Austria must show a negative test or go into quarantine. This is checked at the borders with Hungary, Slovenia and Italy – but only in the form of random samples.

Do Austrian vacationers have to get tested after their return?

The PCR test is compulsory after a stay in a risk region, currently after a trip to Vienna, Tyrol or Vorarlberg. If the test is negative, the otherwise mandatory two-week quarantine does not apply. Returnees from risk areas must stay at home until the result of the smear test is available. However, medical professionals point out that a very fresh infection is often not recognized. A second test after five to seven days is therefore recommended. However, two federal states grant exceptions that can be relevant in the case of Austria: Baden-Württemberg waives testing and quarantine if the trip was shorter than 48 hours. Bavaria also accommodates cross-border commuters, but has recently restricted the regulation: travelers are only exempted if their short stay abroad “did not serve to privately participate in a cultural event, a sporting event, a public festival or any other leisure event”. There are also exceptions to the test requirement for life partners with separate domiciles and parents who exercise their custody rights across borders.

What happens if you develop Covid 19 symptoms while on vacation in Austria?

Do not go to the doctor on your own, but stay in the house and call the hotline 1450: This is the clear stipulation of the health department Ages for patients with suspicious symptoms such as cough, fever or sore throat.

With the European health insurance card, which is printed on the back of the health card, there is basically insurance cover. However, repatriation is not paid for, and often not all services. That is why we always recommend private international health insurance when traveling. However, some insurers exclude benefits in the event of a pandemic or a travel warning. Whether this is the case is stated in the insurance conditions in small print.

Can trips to Austria be canceled?

Package holidaymakers may withdraw from the contract in the event of “unavoidable, exceptional circumstances” at the holiday location that “significantly impair the implementation of the package tour or the transport of people to the destination” without having to pay the usual cancellation fees. A travel warning is considered a “strong indication” of this. Even if it is not available, there has been a ruling by the Frankfurt District Court (Az .: 32 C 2136/20) Quite a good chance of a free resignation, provided there is a certain likelihood of a dangerous spread of the virus. At the time of booking, however, this development must not have been foreseeable. In this interview with travel law expert Paul Degott you can find out what you have to pay attention to. All payments already made must be reimbursed within 14 days. This also applies if it is the organizer who cancels the trip.

However, if the trip does not take place for a few months, consumers cannot refer to the current travel warning or the current infection situation. For example, if you prefer to cancel your ski holiday in Austria booked as a package tour for fear of Corona, you must pay cancellation fees – provided the organizer does not allow rebooking.

What about individually booked trips?

Individual travelers who organize travel and accommodation separately from each other are legally worse off than package travelers: even a travel warning does not entitle them to withdraw from the contract free of charge. The shorter the cancellation, the higher the cancellation fees. Even the total price may be due. The details of the cancellation staggering can be found in the contract that was concluded with the hotelier or holiday home owner. In any case, it is worth trying to contact the host before the final rejection: Perhaps the stay can be postponed to the coming year. If you book now, you should pay attention to the most accommodating cancellation conditions. Many hoteliers and holiday home rental companies are currently accommodating their customers.

What will happen to the coming ski season now?

There’s no snow in sight yet, but the preparations for the new season have long been underway. Despite the Corona crisis, Austria wants to keep the ski areas open in the coming winter, recently emphasized Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz: “Winter tourism and skiing will be possible.” Party skiers, however, will have to adjust: Food and drinks should only be consumed while sitting – and not in the crowd at the bar. Masks are required in the gondolas and a minimum distance when queuing. The past season ended prematurely and extremely ingloriously because of the pandemic. Because the first wave of infections got going, among other things because the après-ski hotspot Ischgl became a corona hotspot – and the virus, because nobody reacted at first, went on a trip to Europe with the returning holidaymakers.

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Holiday in Corona times: do consulates help despite travel warning?

IIn spring 2020, the largest repatriation campaign in the history of the Federal Republic took place: 240,000 Germans were brought back to Germany from abroad due to the Covid 19 pandemic. The federal government made it clear that there shouldn’t be a second time. In emergencies, however, travelers can of course still count on consular help.

But what exactly does this mean for individual travelers who, unlike package tourists, are not taken care of by an operator?

Stranded in Panama because of Corona

First of all, a real case: Ronja Kötzer was stuck in one of the last open hostels in Panama City for seven days in mid-March, five days of which in complete uncertainty. The 23-year-old student from Passau actually wanted to travel to Peru after her internship abroad.

But then came the news of the worried mother, the border closure, armed patrols and the curfew. In the end, it was clear to Kötzer: “I have to go back to Germany.”

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First, Kötzer signed the Federal Foreign Office’s crisis prevention list. Since the site was completely overloaded, it took four days for the registry to work. Meanwhile, the German searched intensively for return flights – most of them had either already been canceled or cost around 2,000 euros.

Then she heard about the return campaign. There should be two planes, the first for high-risk patients and doctors. Finally, on March 27, the embassy received the email: there would be a return flight to Frankfurt in two days.

Consular help even in the event of a travel warning

The example shows: Foreign missions such as embassies and consulates help if there are unrest or disasters in the country of residence. As with Ronja Kötzer, the representation can provide support when you leave the country. And: Germans can register for short-term stays via the Elefand crisis prevention list so that the embassy can contact them in an emergency.

Strand in Panama

If you unintentionally get stuck abroad, you can no longer necessarily enjoy dream beaches like here in Panama

Those: Getty Images / Andrea Comi

Foreign missions often also help travelers in other cases – for example when vacationers have been robbed and therefore have neither money nor passports. Then they issue replacement passports, for example. You can also put in contact with local lawyers, doctors and translators. Financial advance payments are only possible in exceptional cases. All of this applied before Corona and continues to apply.

The Foreign Office (AA) assures that the worldwide network of diplomatic missions is still available “to provide consular support to German citizens in emergencies and to find pragmatic solutions for a return to Germany if necessary”. This applies regardless of the existence of a travel warning.

Vacationers have no general right to help

However, it always applies that the consular help is help for self-help. So you have to try to help yourself or with the support of family and friends first.

A direct right of the individual to the granting of consular help is not regulated in the Consular Act, explains lawyer Vladimir Stamenkovic from Essen. Whether and how consular assistance is provided is at the discretion of the consular officer.

According to the Federal Foreign Office, the type of support depends on the circumstances and possibilities in the individual case. The spectrum ranges from general advice to specific practical support. Financial support is only available under strictly defined conditions.

In principle, the following applies: The German diplomatic missions can generally help, but it depends on the individual case.

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As a rule, however, individual travelers cannot count on support in rebooking their return trip. Here vacationers are left to fend for themselves, says Robert Bartel, legal advisor at the Brandenburg Consumer Center.

Although it is usually more expensive, a flexible ticket can be a solution. This means that you have the option of leaving earlier or later spontaneously, if the circumstances on site or an infection require it. In any case, many airlines are currently offering free rebooking options.

When the Federal Foreign Office warns of a trip

Travel warnings are an urgent appeal by the Federal Foreign Office to refrain from traveling – but not a travel ban. Vacationers decide on their own responsibility whether they should go on a trip or not. The diplomatic mission does not refuse to help just because there is a travel warning.

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For a holiday in Mallorca you just have to accept a little more hardship.  Here is a scene from Magaluf

Lawyer Stamenkovic emphasizes, however, that there is no entitlement to certain protective measures. The competent authority could even accept significant violations of the rights of a citizen abroad to protect the general public. “This can be justified in particular if a citizen ignores a travel warning and accepts the risk of Sars-Cov-2 infection.”

A travel warning can also have other legal effects: For example, the international travel health insurance usually does not pay. If there is an evacuation, as with Ronja Kötzer, a travel warning can, according to Stamenkovic, influence the amount of the return costs, which the German state interprets beforehand.

Insurance only helps with illness

The German diplomatic mission abroad cannot disregard laws and regulations in the country of travel. If a holidaymaker becomes infected with Corona on site or if there is even a suspicion, the country’s authorities decide which measures are to be taken, as reported by the Federal Foreign Office.

As in Germany, the authorities can order quarantine measures. These must also be followed by travelers. As a rule, it is not possible to return home during this period – and the federal government cannot bring back infected people.

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Corona test center at Cologne Bonn Airport.  Anyone who is noticed here first has to be quarantined

A travel health insurance abroad reimburses the costs of medical treatment abroad in the case of Corona and pays for the return transport to Germany – unless there is a clause in the contract that excludes pandemics. That’s it!

The insurance does not apply to travel restrictions and travel warnings. A travel interruption insurance does not cover costs if there are suddenly official restrictions on site. And travel insurers generally do not reimburse the costs of a repatriation to Germany organized by the state.

Ronja Kötzer is also still waiting for the bill for the return flight from Panama. “My originally planned return flight from Peru would have cost 280 euros,” says the student. She now reckons with significantly higher costs of several hundred euros. Communication was often difficult and there was great uncertainty, she said. “But in the end everything worked out.”

Federal Foreign Office prepares invoices for return campaign

Travelers who were brought back to Germany by the Foreign Office during the Corona crisis should soon receive their bills. According to the Consular Act, those affected should share in the costs of the charter flights, as the Foreign Office explained.

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Corona virus and travel: you need to know that now – travel

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.

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Border controls – Seehofer brakes freedom of travel – politics

In March, the Federal Minister of the Interior surprised the neighboring countries with border controls. But when it comes to withdrawing the restrictions, he is in no hurry. There are reasons for that.

He has now reached level three, the most uncomfortable of all phases. According to Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer (CSU), level one in the fight against the infectious disease Covid-19 was the imposition of contact bans and the introduction of border controls in Germany. Level two was the billion-dollar aid for afflicted livelihoods. Level three, “by far the most difficult,” was how Seehofer recently expressed that this was the gradual withdrawal of the restrictions. This phase can now be considered as achieved.

For days, the pressure on the interior minister to loosen or lift controls at German borders has been growing. In Brussels, some federal states, but also in the opposition, there is growing unease about a Europe that can no longer deliver on the promise of freedom to travel. But – Seehofer wouldn’t be Seehofer if he gave in to this pressure too quickly.

Taking the pace was the slogan in the Federal Ministry of the Interior on Tuesday. In mid-March, police checks were reintroduced at a number of German borders due to the spread of the corona virus in a rather arbitrary schedule. The project is said to have been discussed with EU interior ministers. Apparently, however, it was not sealed at the highest level. French President Emmanuel Macron reacted angrily. Criticism also came from Brussels. At that time, Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) had no choice but to subsequently present the border controls already announced by Seehofer as a European project.

Germany is pushing ahead, its European neighbors are forced to follow suit – this scenario should not be repeated when the border controls are lifted. “I am in intensive talks with everyone involved, especially our neighbors,” said Seehofer Süddeutsche Zeitung on Tuesday. He also did not want to comment on a possible end to the quarantine regulation in Germany. “It will take a while.” A decision was expected no earlier than Tuesday evening.

Seehofer, by nature not a European politician, always considered it the first task in the Corona crisis to ensure the safety of “the population”. It always meant the one in Germany who – felt – had to be protected against an intruder from outside. In March Seehofer ordered border controls on Covid 19 risk areas: France, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Denmark. Air travelers from Italy and Spain were also only allowed to enter the country with good reason, for example for work-related commuting, for business appointments that cannot be postponed, or for goods transport.

At Seehofer, border controls are seen as a useful measure – also because, as a by-catch, they have made it possible to arrest a number of suspected criminals. Relaxation of controls, such as the limitation to random samples or the reopening of closed border crossing points, was still considered a possible procedure in Berlin.

Seehofer does not want to remove all controls at the same time. “An essential criterion is the infection process on both sides of the border,” said a spokesman. It should also be noted whether similar measures to combat infection apply in the neighboring countries. A situation in which shops are closed in France but open in Germany could lead to many French people shopping in Germany. This is considered too risky in the Home Office.

Quarantine is also likely to be tricky for Seehofer. A court has suspended the general quarantine obligation for all travelers to Germany. It was given to the owner of a vacation home. If the federal and state governments hold conferences again next week, the pressure to relax will also increase with the quarantine requirement. The Ministry of the Interior is relaxed. “The verdict is not yet a reason to change the current regulation,” said a spokesman. However, the countries have the final say in the quarantine regime.

Armin Laschet, Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia and aspirant for the CDU federal presidency, is one who Seehofer’s deliberate approach is far too slow. He thinks the Berlin course is fundamentally wrong. In the past few weeks, he complained that he was too national and too little European. “Rules are now needed that protect people against the spread of the corona virus but do not stop at national borders,” he told the SZ. North Rhine-Westphalia is “in close contact with our neighbors in Belgium and the Netherlands” in order to “enable cross-border tourism again.”

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In contrast to the CSU minister, the CDU vice is still a “Kohlian” when it comes to Europe. Laschet grew up in the German-Dutch-Belgian triangle near Aachen, and six years as a member of the European Parliament has stepped up his continental consciousness. Turning the barriers up, that is in the original German self-interest: “Without the internal market with open borders, Germany cannot overcome the crisis,” he said Rheinische Post.

Laschet preaches what he practices in his own country. The NRW borders to Belgium and the Netherlands remained largely open despite Covid-19 – apart from the rather sporadic controls by the federal police. Since Corona came over NRW at the end of February, Laschet and his Minister of Transport Hendrik Wüst have been opposed to Berlin’s requests to tighten the border regime there as well.

The close integration across the West German state border means freedom of movement. Otherwise, important supply chains threaten the economy. And you even risk bottlenecks in the healthcare system. Medicines could become scarce, and many doctors, nurses and nurses who fight corona in hospitals and old people’s homes are day commuters. At the beginning of April, when the Berlin Corona Cabinet finally bowed to the wishes from Düsseldorf, Laschet stood in the middle of the street in the Dutch border town of Vaals and announced with wind-blown hair: “The fight was worth it, the border remains open!”

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Corona virus and travel: you need to know that now – travel

The corona virus slows public life to an unprecedented extent, freedom of movement is extremely restricted, borders are closed.

How does the Federal Foreign Office help vacationers who are stranded at their travel destination?

One month after the Federal Government’s return campaign began, around 240,000 Germans stranded abroad are at home again. According to the Federal Foreign Office, only a “middle four-digit number” of travelers now has to be flown out, most of them from South Africa, Argentina and Peru, reports the dpa. The largest return campaign in the history of the Federal Republic is likely to be completed in a few days. Afterwards, the embassies will continue to deal with individual cases – which does not mean that they will all come home when all connections have been terminated.

The government initially provided € 50 million for the largest return campaign in the history of the Federal Republic. The Federal Foreign Office assumed up to 200,000 German tourists affected. In total, several hundred thousand Germans are abroad, many of whom also live there. “But not all of them want to go back,” said a spokeswoman for the Federal Foreign Office.

Travelers who could not get any further criticized the airlines: With the radical cut in international connections, also for economic reasons, they would have contributed to the fact that holidaymakers were stuck – their return flight simply did not take place. Instead, travelers had to strive for often more expensive replacement tickets and hope that this machine actually took off. The additional costs can be claimed back from EU airlines.

The Federal government recall campaign applies or was valid – as of April 17, 2:30 p.m. – for the following particularly affected countries (You can find detailed information about the return journey here, via the Federal Foreign Office Twitter channel as well as the social media pages of the embassies and on the websites of the respective consulates – you can easily access them via the country link): Egypt, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Bali (Indonesia), Bolivia, Cabo Verde, Chile, Costa Rica, Ivory Coast, of the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Gambia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canary Islands (Spain), Kenya, Colombia, Cuba, Laos, Liberia, Morocco, Mauritius, Mexico, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Sudan, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Uruguay and Vietnam. If you are in one of these countries and want to return to Germany, you have to go to the Enter website rueckholprogramm.de. For many countries, this has to be done repeated daily will be confirmed that you are still stuck in the country. You can find out which countries are currently on the Federal Foreign Office’s information page. Registration in the crisis preparedness list Elefand or another program (e.g. Condor) is not sufficient. However, the returns are almost complete.

Nevertheless, all Germans abroad should also register on the crisis preparedness list in order to be provided with current information.

A detailed article on the topic “How vacationers come home now – and who pays which costs” can be found here.

What travel restrictions apply?

Because of the corona pandemic, the federal government has one worldwide travel warning pronounced for tourist trips and already extended to the beginning of May. It is not yet clear whether the corona pandemic will prolong it. “At the present time, no prediction can be made as to how long the travel warning will be maintained,” Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on April 17. “As long as there are curfews in many countries, there will be no vacation there. We will decide from week to week.” They will also try to coordinate “as best as possible” European.

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.

The external borders of the European union are cordoned off. The heads of state and government agreed on a preliminary one Entry ban. This decision is also intended to help keep internal borders open, where long traffic jams are currently forming. As the Federal Ministry of the Interior announced, the ban affects all flights and ship journeys that have their origin outside the EU. There are exceptions for citizens of Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Great Britain. The federal police inform who is still allowed to enter Germany and which documents are required.

Germany also has itself Entry bans put in place and with strict border controls began. Transitions to Switzerland, France, Austria, Denmark and Luxembourg are affected, as are flights from the five countries mentioned as well as from Spain and Italy. German citizens would “naturally have the right to return to their home country,” said Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer. The same applies to commuters and foreigners with a residence permit and residence in Germany. Appropriate documents must be presented upon entry. Other travelers are no longer allowed in the country. From April 10th Returnees are also quarantined at home for two weeks.

Exiting Germany from neighboring countries is also becoming increasingly difficult: Poland, Czech Republic and Denmark have adopted strict rules so that travelers are no longer allowed to enter the country without a valid reason. In the Switzerland may only Swiss citizens, people with a residence permit or professional entry reasons. In Austria a medical certificate is required at the border with Germany: only those who can prove that they are not infected with Sars-CoV-2 are allowed to enter the country. There are exceptions for Austrians and people residing in the country – there is also an exit restriction.

They also agreed Federal government and states in fighting the spread of the virus Prohibitions and exit restrictions Bavaria has also imposed its own strict requirements.

In what period do tour operators currently cancel trips?

The decision was made to “suspend the majority of all travel activities, including package tours, cruises and hotel operations,” said the Tui Group – worldwide. Initially, the stop was valid until the end of March, meanwhile Tui Germany has canceled all trips until April 30th. Customers whose booked trips would have occurred during the Easter holidays should be informed accordingly. However, there may still be delays “because the large number of travel bookings are processed after the departure date”.

On its homepage, the Tui provides information about its approach for the different travel countries. Bookings would be “proactively canceled” and customers informed, chronologically after departure date.

The FTI Group (FTI Touristik, 5vorFlug, BigXtra and LAL Sprachreisen) announced that all trips are canceled until April 30th. Studiosus, Alltours, THE tourism and Vikings travel such as Schauinsland Reisen also cancel trips until April 30th. Anex Tour, Öger Tours and Bucher Reisen as well as Gebeco have canceled their offers up to this day.

If package tours and flights are canceled by the organizer, the price must be reimbursed according to current law. However, that may change in the future. There have recently been massive demands in the industry to allow coupons instead of refunds to reduce the financial burden on businesses. On April 2, the “Corona Cabinet” of the federal government introduced a corresponding regulation, which has yet to be approved by the EU Commission. Accordingly, the travel price will no longer have to be refunded immediately. Instead, vouchers are said to be allowed. They would be limited until the end of 2021 and should apply to all tickets and trips purchased before March 8th. If the customer has not redeemed their voucher by the end of 2021, the organizer must refund the value.

As long as there is no EU decision, the voucher remains voluntary. Some big tour operators like Tui, FTI or DER Touristik advertise with bonus payments. There are also a number of companies, such as Alltours, Schauinsland-Reise and Vtours, which have announced that they will forego vouchers and reimburse the travel price.

Customers who want to cancel a trip planned from May in view of the current situation, on the other hand, have to expect cancellation fees. The amount depends on how soon the departure is imminent. However, more and more tour operators are offering a free rebooking, for example the Tui Group and DER Touristik for all trips that would have started in May, and the FTI Group for departures by the end of June.

(In this article, you will read detailed information on travel law issues relating to travel in the coming months.)

What are the restrictions for rail travelers?

The Deutsche Bahn According to their own information, currently runs around 75 to 80 percent of their usual offer. Thereby the Regional traffic restricted: Since Monday, March 23rd, a reduced timetable for regional traffic (RE, RB, S-Bahn) applies until after the Easter holidays on April 19th. In Bavaria, excursion connections, trains used by schoolchildren and clock amplifiers in commuter traffic are being cut. Many DB regional trains then run every hour. “We guarantee basic services everywhere,” said Transport Minister Kerstin Schreyer (CSU) on Friday in Munich.

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 rules, Deutsche Bahn has to end or cancel a number of train connections earlier, for example 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 hectic pace: “The goodwill regulations will apply in the coming weeks, so it is not necessary to report immediately,” emphasizes the company. 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. The regulation initially applies to travel until the end of April. From April 2, passengers should also be able to cancel a saver fare or super saver ticket booked online or on the go, directly online. Anyone who has booked with a flex price can cancel free of charge. All customers who just want to postpone their trip can use their booked ticket flexibly until June 30th (except for group tickets). All tickets can be converted into vouchers that can be redeemed after June 30th.

There Flixtrain until probably at the end of April, the tickets valid until April 30 may also be used for the second class of the IC and ICE of the Deutsche Bahn, if you are still traveling. Flixtrain customers could “travel flexibly on a day of their choice during this period with their ticket,” says bahn.de. All connections that correspond to the route on the Flixtrain ticket should be used. This only needs to be shown and not converted into a DB ticket.

The Austrian Federal Railways ÖBB have suspended train services from and to Italy, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia and Switzerland until further notice. International tickets valid until May 1st can be canceled free of charge.

The Italian railway companies also meet customers: Trenitalia already announced in February that train journeys, regardless of tariff, would be fully reimbursed if trips were canceled due to the corona virus. 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? 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.

Who pays when a train is delayed due to suspected coronavirus? On the night of Rosenmontag two trains of the ÖBB had to stop at the Brenner – only when two sick women had been tested negatively were the other passengers allowed to travel on and did not arrive in Munich until well after midnight. If, in such a case, public transport can no longer bring the passengers to their destination, they are entitled to a taxi ride under European law (however, the railway companies pay a maximum of 50 euros) or, for larger distances, an overnight stay (limited to 80 euros additional payment, often should if possible, stay in nearby contract hotels – here the compensation rules of Deutsche Bahn and ÖBB). In addition, customers who are more than one hour late can claim a quarter of the one-way fare as compensation, from two hours even half. These amounts are due for rail travel – unlike flights – regardless of fault.

What other changes and restrictions should passengers expect?

In Europe and worldwide, travelers are being thwarted 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. On April 2, Lufthansa announced that it would extend its fuselage flight schedule by two weeks until May 3. All flights from the regular schedule will be canceled by this date. The daughter Austrian Airlines will cease regular flights until April 19, only return flights for Austrians will take place. Even the holiday pilot Condor reduces flights to major destinations such as the United States, the Caribbean and Turkey. The company still sent planes to bring vacationers back.

British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, Vueling and Level cancel at least 75 percent of their flights in April and May. Air France-KLM will cut 90 percent during this period. Lot Airlines have already largely canceled 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.

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 are completely canceled: Aida cruises all journeys of its 14-ship fleet have since been canceled by the end of May. Also the Tui canceled all cruises. Ships that are still on the move are having great problems finding a port of call with sick people on board.

Who pays when the return flight has been canceled and the traveler has to organize a more expensive return?

Airlines worldwide have cut their flight program extremely, Lufthansa by about 95 percent. This also means that normal return flights are canceled, so that passengers cannot make their way home in the Corona crisis of all places. 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, vacationers can search for a return flight themselves. Only: The few places on return flights to Germany are scarce, therefore the prices rise; in addition, single flights are generally much more expensive than return flight 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,” Degott says. Given the current situation, a deadline of a few hours was enough.

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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 was booked in New Zealand and the flight is then canceled, the civil law of the respective country applies.

Who pays for the cancellation of the trip if you are no longer able to come to the holiday destination due to changed entry requirements?

At Package tours the organizer is obliged to either pay back the price or offer a rebooking – here the German travel law applies. Because of the exceptional circumstances, customers will not receive any compensation for lost vacation enjoyment.

Individual travelers on the other hand, have themselves booked a hotel or rental car and are therefore faced 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 located in a restricted area and cannot be reached,” says the consumer center. If a contract was made directly with landlords abroad, however, the law of the respective country applies – here it is important, for example, whether the contract is invalid because of 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 to insist on a fee-free cancellation of the stay due to the inaccessibility of the domicile. However, by decree of March 8, 2020, Italy allowed the 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: once 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.

All reimbursements may in future also take the form of Vouchers possible: The German government launched a corresponding solution, which has yet to be approved by the EU Commission.

Who pays for the additional costs if vacationers are 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 get the amount back 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 ensure 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 is accommodating.

For example, in the case of the Costa Adeje Palace hotel in Tenerife, where guests had to wait two weeks, the Tui had paid the costs for their package travelers, according to a press spokesman, and they would not have had to pay a surcharge for more expensive return flights, at least in this individual case.

What does the Federal Foreign Office advise?

  • Because of the corona crisis, the federal government has one worldwide travel warning pronounced and meanwhile extended until the beginning of May.
  • Changes to the entry and quarantine regulations would in some cases be issued without prior notice and with immediate effect. Numerous travelers in several countries are currently affected and prevented from traveling on or back.
  • Tourists should immediately use existing flight connections for the fastest possible return trip to Germany, as long as there are still commercial flight or land connections. If a return trip is no longer possible, you should register in the return program. More information can be found in the FAQ on the return campaign.
  • 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.
  • It also warns that quarantine measures should not be expected to be retrieved by the organizer or the federal government, but should follow the instructions of the local health authorities.
  • Travel health insurance coverage should be reviewed and, if necessary, extended to include a return.
  • 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 already increase their credit line.
  • The increased entry controls and health checks would particularly affect cruise ships. “There have been several refusals to call at ports. Delays, route changes and, in certain cases, quarantine measures by local authorities can still be expected,” it says.
  • Also for tourists: you should wash your hands regularly and properly and generally keep them away from your face.
  • If you have a fever, cough or difficulty breathing, you should contact a doctor and point out a trip to an outbreak area.
  • Anyone returning from a risk area should obtain information in advance from the Robert Koch Institute and the German Ministry of the Interior about travel restrictions and border controls.
  • When returning after a stay of several days abroad, a two-week quarantine obligation applies at home.

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 just come back from a trip?

Germans, EU citizens and foreigners who have lived in Germany for many years have generally been required for two weeks in home quarantineif they return to the Federal Republic after at least several days abroad – this is how the infection chains should be interrupted. The Corona crisis cabinet recommended this to the federal states, which agreed. The quarantine obligation, which will initially apply until April 19, should not affect commuters, and there are exceptions for certain groups such as truck drivers and medical personnel as well as transit travelers in the EU.

All other immigrants are obliged “to go straight to their own home or other suitable accommodation immediately after entering the country and to isolate themselves there continuously for a period of 14 days after their entry”, 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 public health hazards caused by the crime”, whether the person concerned has acted negligently or is unreasonable and whether there is a recurrence. Whoever violates the requirement of domestic quarantine after entering the country should be loud Fines catalog pay between 500 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.

Because of the corona pandemic, people who are neither Germans nor permanently resident here have only been allowed to come to Germany for a “valid reason to travel” since mid-March. Since March 16, border controls have been carried out temporarily on the borders with Austria, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg and Denmark in coordination with the neighboring countries. In border regions where there are no such controls, the federal police use the “existing search and control instruments”. This means that people who enter from there can also be quarantined or returned if they are addressed by the police in the 30 km border area.

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Travel law & Corona: cancel vacation or book now? – Travel

Going on vacation, on the beach, in the mountains or on the boulevards of a lively city – that’s over for now. Until at least May 3, the Federal Foreign Office’s warning against all “unnecessary tourist trips abroad” applies worldwide. Vacation packages for the Easter holidays were canceled, flights canceled, hotels closed – in view of the global impact of the corona pandemic, the thought of carefree vacations has already moved into the distance, in spite of the need for recovery. But what about the Pentecost vacation, the summer vacation, the maybe long booked and paid trip in a few months? The most important questions and answers at a glance.

Which trips can be canceled?

The Federal Foreign Office warns against any tourist trips abroad – no matter where. This worldwide travel warning is valid until May 3 and generally allows free cancellation of upcoming trips and flights abroad: From a legal perspective, the warning is a strong indication of “unavoidable and exceptional circumstances” – and these in turn entitle you to withdraw from the Travel.

This applies not only to travelers, but also to the organizers: Package travel providers such as Tui, FTI, Studiosus, Schauinsland Reisen or Alltours have canceled all trips until April 30th. Payments already made will be reimbursed. Package travelers generally do not have to do this themselves – and should not try it at all: the hotlines are overloaded or no longer accessible. One will report to all customers as soon as possible, according to the Tui Group’s website, for example. However, this could take some time: The bookings would be processed chronologically according to the departure date. The following applies to all tour operators: customers are entitled to reimbursement of the travel price. A voucher or a change of booking are offered, but do not have to be accepted.

However, that will probably change in the future. There have recently been massive demands in the industry, Vouchers instead of allowing reimbursements to reduce the financial burden on businesses. On Thursday, the “Corona Cabinet” of the federal government introduced a corresponding regulation, which, however, still has to be approved by the EU Commission. Accordingly, the travel price will no longer have to be refunded immediately. Instead, vouchers are said to be allowed. They would be limited until the end of 2021 and should apply to all tickets and trips purchased before March 8th. If the customer has not redeemed their voucher by the end of 2021, the organizer must refund the value. Hardship clauses are also planned for all customers who cannot be reasonably expected to receive a voucher due to their financial situation.

Individual travelers can also rely on travel warnings and the closure of most borders. If they cannot use hotel rooms or rental cars, they do not have to pay for it under German law: “This is the case, for example, if the accommodation is in a restricted area and cannot be reached”, inform the consumer advice centers. This also applies to bookings on a German-speaking hotel portal, explains travel law expert Ernst Führich. However, if the contract was concluded directly with landlords abroad, the law of the respective country is applied. There, too, the contract may have lapsed due to the Foreign Office’s worldwide travel warning. However, this must be clarified in individual cases. Depending on the cancellation conditions, those affected may have to hope for goodwill: Perhaps the hotel stay can be postponed instead of expensive to cancel.

What about travel within Germany?

The travel warning only applies to foreign countries, but no more tourist trips are possible between the North Sea and the Alps. The Federal Government’s measures against the spread of the corona virus prohibit the use of overnight accommodation for tourist purposes. Coach trips are also prohibited. Some federal states go even further: Schleswig-Holstein, for example, is completely closed to tourists, including day visitors. According to legal experts from the consumer advice centers, there are also “unavoidable, extraordinary circumstances” – and travel can be canceled free of charge, unless the provider or hotelier has already done so.

What applies to trips that take place in a few weeks?

Pentecost and summer holidays have often been booked long ago. The worldwide travel warning currently applies until the beginning of May. It is not yet clear whether the corona pandemic will prolong it. “At the present time, no prediction can be made as to how long the travel warning will be maintained,” Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on April 17. “As long as there are curfews in many countries, there will be no vacation there. We will decide from week to week.” They will also try to coordinate “as best as possible” European.

For trips that take place from May, there are often no free cancellation options. “It is therefore advisable not to cancel already booked trips that are only to be started in a few weeks or months. Otherwise, cancellation fees will apply,” says travel law expert Sabine Fischer-Volk from the Karimi law firm in Berlin. Only: Waiting can also be expensive – the closer the travel date gets, the higher the downtime costs that an organizer can charge. Vacationers should keep an eye on the current situation and weigh them up again and again depending on the cost and importance of the trip. Because very different scenarios are conceivable:

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All reports on the current situation in Germany and worldwide as well as the most important news of the day – twice a day with SZ Espresso. Our Newsletter brings you up to date in the morning and evening. Free registration: sz.de/espresso. In our News app (download here) you can also subscribe to the espresso or breaking news as a push message.

  • A holiday is now canceled by the customer for a fee. At the time of the actually planned departure it is still not possible to travel, so the withdrawal would then cost nothing. “In our opinion, travelers should then get their cancellation fees back,” emphasize legal experts from the Consumer Advice Center North Rhine-Westphalia. “But it is not said that your tour operator also sees it that way.”
  • Customers wait a while, but cancel shortly before departure, even though there is no travel warning. Then you have to pay significantly more than if you resign early.
  • Those who definitely want to travel and therefore stick to their booking may only find out at very short notice whether the trip is actually taking place – either because the worldwide travel warning has been extended again or because of the location at the travel destination. You should keep an eye on these: Travel restrictions and curfews can be imposed at very short notice, as many travelers have suffered painfully in the past few days. The following applies to package tours: if too many restrictions are to be expected on site, you can cancel free of charge.

Despite the corona crisis: If payments are now due for a holiday booked in the summer months, the money must be transferred.

Can trips be rebooked?

Here the industry is increasingly accommodating its customers. Trips that should start in the coming weeks can now be postponed free of charge by many tour operators. At Tui, for example, this option applies to booked vacations with departure in May. Not only the date, but also the destination can be changed, “the current daily price” is calculated for the new trip, the company says.

Bookings with the DER Touristik group, which include Meiers Weltreisen, ITS Reisen, Jahn Reisen and ADAC Reisen, can also be changed if they had started by May 31. Customers must report at least ten days before the planned departure. FTI offers free rebooking for departures by June 30th. Again, the new travel date must be set at least ten days before the original start date.

What about flights that have already been booked?

The Lufthansa Group has also changed its rules for rebooking: If you have a ticket for canceled or existing flights, you can keep it without having to first set a new flight date. The value of the ticket remains the same, it can be rebooked to a new departure date up to and including December 31, 2020 – but this must be done by the end of August. The travel destination may be changed. Lufthansa also advertises a discount of 50 euros. In addition, there are no rebooking fees, no matter what tariff was originally purchased. But if you now think that you can now get to the Maldives cheaply instead of to Mallorca at the end of the year, you’re wrong: “Should the rebooked tariff be more expensive due to a change in the destination (rebooking from short to long haul), a change in travel class or similar , an additional payment may be necessary despite the discount, “says Lufthansa. Since the airline’s service centers are currently difficult to reach, you can still rebook after the actual departure date. This applies to tickets purchased until March 31, 2020 and with a confirmed travel date until December 31, 2020.

Regardless of the travel warning from the Federal Foreign Office, the following applies: if a country has imposed an entry ban or deleted visas for Germans and the airline can no longer transport the passenger to their destination, they will get their money back. “The contract has to be reversed,” explains travel lawyer Paul Degott.

It is controversial whether there is any additional compensation under the EU passenger directive. Airlines rely on exceptional circumstances and only want to reimburse ticket prices or offer free rebookings. Passenger portals, on the other hand, see good chances of compensation ranging from 250 to 600 euros. In the event of a dispute, consumers can in principle contact the arbitration board for public passenger transport (SÖP), file individual complaints with their own lawyer, or cooperate with one of the numerous Internet portals that take on legal disputes with airlines against performance fees.

Can I still book trips at the moment?

Travel offers for the period from May can be booked, and flight operations are still ongoing – albeit to a very limited extent. Before booking, it is advisable to pay more attention than usual to whether flights, hotel stays or package tours can be canceled at short notice and with as little financial loss as possible. The more flexibility, the better. Many organizers hope that business will start up again soon and offer their customers free rebooking or cancellation options and marketing campaigns. Shipping companies are also loosening their cancellation conditions in the cruise industry: many trips can be canceled free of charge up to a few days before departure.

What if the tour operator goes bankrupt during the crisis?

Many providers are struggling to survive. In the event of insolvency, European organizers are insured against bankruptcy, says travel law expert Sabine Fischer-Volk. However, whether the entire travel price can be reimbursed by the insolvency insurer depends on the number of insolvencies in a financial year. For the losses from the Thomas Cook bankruptcy in 2019, the coverage amount of 110 million euros was not sufficient. The next few weeks will be decisive: several tourism groups want to use state aid and could get through the crisis.

When does the travel cancellation insurance protect against additional costs – and when not?

Travel cancellation insurance covers cancellation fees if a trip cannot be started. However, fear of corona is not enough as a reason. Payment is made for sudden illnesses, deaths in close relatives, sudden unemployment or serious financial losses. Anyone who gets symptoms on the way would need travel cancellation insurance. In addition, the Federal Foreign Office recommends checking whether a return transport would be paid for by the international health insurance. And even then, insured persons could currently remain at their own expense: According to the consumer advice centers, many insurance companies exclude benefits in the event of “damage, illness and death as a result of pandemics”. This can apply to travel cancellation insurance as well as to foreign health insurance – looking at the fine print is more important than ever.

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Canceled trip because of Corona: The most important answers – trip

Many holiday dreams have burst through the corona virus. Since the Covid-19 infections also increasingly affected Europe in March, first individual regions, then entire countries, were sealed off, package tours canceled, flights canceled, vacationers brought home early. The Federal Foreign Office warns of any trips abroad until May 3 – at least. But besides crossed vacation plans, it’s all about a lot of money. What are the rights of customers whose travel or flight has been canceled? What effects does the voucher regulation put in place by the federal government have? The most important questions and answers at a glance.

The package tour was canceled due to the corona pandemic, but had long since been paid for. What about the money

According to the European Package Travel Directive, the legal situation is clear: if the trip cannot be carried out as planned and the tour operator cancels it, the holidaymaker will get his money back – within 14 days. The reimbursements were initially slow. Vacationers reported that they spent hours to days in vain. Or that they were only offered a voucher: “In recent weeks, more and more travel providers have illegally refused repayments and have only issued vouchers,” reports the Brandenburg Consumer Center.

Because the pandemic makes it almost impossible to travel at all, the sums involved are enormous. Repayments of at least 3.5 billion euros are due for canceled package tours, according to a report from which the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung quoted. Industry representatives warn of serious consequences for the tourism industry: “If companies in this precarious situation are forced to repay the prices paid to their customers for trips that could no longer be started, they will fall to their knees,” cautioned Norbert Fiebig, President of the German Travel Association (DRV). A model “voucher instead of money” is therefore necessary. The repayment obligation must be temporarily suspended. In the meantime, the federal government is also campaigning for such a solution.

The responsible ministries should approach the EU Commission with the “urgent concern of a short-term practicable voucher solution”, the Corona crisis cabinet decided on April 2nd. Because it is a European directive, decisions must also be taken at European level. The President of the EU Commission, responsible for the implementation of European regulations, Ursula von der Leyen, expressed skepticism: According to von Leyen, people across Europe had the choice between money and vouchers. However, she asks “financially non-performing customers” not to exercise their right to reimbursement. In this crisis, “everyone’s solidarity is needed”.

If the customer does not want a voucher, the obligation to repay still applies. “So you don’t have to wait now, but can tell the operator or the airline that you insist on repayment,” says travel lawyer Paul Degott from Hanover. In the meantime, some tour operators are also signaling accommodation: Alltours, Schauinsland-Reise and Vtours, for example, have announced that they will forego vouchers and reimburse the travel price. Tui, FTI or DER Touristik lure with bonus payments of up to 200 euros if a voucher is accepted instead of a repayment, but at the same time assure a refund if the customer requests it.

What applies to canceled flights?

The legal situation is similar to package tours, except that the money has to be reimbursed within seven days. The EU Passenger Rights Regulation applies to flights within the EU and from the EU to a non-EU country regardless of the seat of the airline, for flights from a non-EU country to the EU, only EU airlines are required. For a return flight booked in Germany, travelers could also rely on these regulations, even if the airline is based outside the EU, emphasizes Degott. However, if a flight ticket from New Zealand to Germany was booked in New Zealand and the flight is then canceled, the civil law of the respective country applies.

Additional costs are also payable in connection with canceled flights, if the ticket for the replacement flight was more expensive or if it only went home three days later. However, travelers are not allowed to quickly search for a new flight on their own, but must at least give the airline the chance to solve the problem. “But if you can prove that you have asked for it several times with deadlines and nothing has happened, then the way is clear to help yourself,” says Degott.

Vouchers are also currently mainly offered for canceled flights. Lufthansa is also trying to get customers to rebook with a € 50 bonus. “Of course, refunds are of course still possible. However, there may be delays due to the exceptional circumstances. Customers are asked to contact the service center,” a company spokesman said on request. The Lufthansa subsidiary Eurowings also advertises rebooking and vouchers. “If the customer does not want any of these options, a refund is also possible,” said a spokeswoman. However, given the size of the crisis, one has to ask our customers for understanding if the processing of reimbursement applications can be delayed somewhat in this special situation.

Who should get the vouchers?

According to the will of the federal government, a state-regulated voucher solution could look like this in detail:

  • A voucher is said to be available for vacation packages and flights booked before March 8, 2020 and canceled due to the corona pandemic.
  • The voucher is to be valid until December 31, 2021. If it has not been redeemed by then, the value must be refunded.
  • In the case of package tours, the voucher is to be secured against bankruptcy by the tour operator. This is an important detail, because bankruptcies must be expected in view of the massive slump in the travel business. And the insured sums, as the Thomas Cook bankruptcy has shown, are already set too low for large defaults. Package travelers would thus be significantly better protected than air travelers: No insolvency protection is provided for vouchers issued by airlines – analogous to the already existing regulations. If an airline goes bankrupt, the money for flights already booked is gone. And a voucher would then only be a worthless piece of paper.
  • A hardship clause is intended to ensure that customers for whom a voucher would be unreasonable due to their financial situation are paid the reimbursement. It is not yet known what criteria should apply to this.

It is not yet clear when the proposal will be decided at European level.

Corona virus updates – twice a day via email or push message

All reports on the current situation in Germany and worldwide as well as the most important news of the day – twice a day with SZ Espresso. Our Newsletter brings you up to date in the morning and evening. Free registration: sz.de/espresso. In our News app (download here) you can also subscribe to the espresso or breaking news as a push message.

What risks do travelers take when they accept a voucher?

Customers can already choose vouchers now – because they want to fly again anyway, because they have always traveled with the organizer, because they want to assist a hotelier in a crisis. But you have to consider: There is no bankruptcy protection for all vouchers that are already being issued. If the organizer or the hotelier goes bankrupt, the voucher is worthless. It is also uncertain whether its value will still be enough for a comparable trip in a few months: Perhaps the flight was a special bargain that will not be available again at a later date. Possible time limits also need to be examined very carefully. The end of the year may still be far away at the present time, but it is currently uncertain when it will be possible to travel again. “We are critical of a time limit because it puts pressure on the consumer,” says travel law expert Parsya Baschiri from the Bremen Consumer Center. Personalization also severely limits customers’ freedom of choice.

The federal government’s voucher model provides for bankruptcy protection for package tours, but consumer advocates still face fierce criticism: Customers made prepayment payments with the confidence that they would get the money back in the event of rejection, explained Klaus Müller, executive board member of the consumer association’s federal association. The vouchers are “in fact compulsory consumer loans to companies for which they do not even receive interest”.

Christian A. Rumpke, managing director of the Brandenburg Consumer Center, also says that the planned hardship regulation cannot be conveyed to consumers. It puts the needy in an unworthy situation: they may have to prove personal emergencies to companies in order to receive money instead of a voucher. As an alternative to the voucher model, the consumer advice centers had brought up a security fund that would secure future bankruptcies, allow liquidity to be reimbursed for customer funds at short notice, and would be refinanced by companies in the coming years.

How should travel customers make their claims?

The contacts for reimbursement claims are the airline for air travel and the tour operator for package tours. Even if flight and accommodation were selected individually but then booked with a provider, it can be a package tour. An indication of this is a security certificate that was issued with the booking. Whether Internet vacation portals have to vouch for unusual trips is controversial: “If they arranged the hotel and the rental car in addition to a flight, one could speak of a package tour,” says travel lawyer Paul Degott, but also advises: “Me would not start arguing with the portal about whether it is an agent or an organizer, I would always turn to the service provider, to whom I also gave my money. “

But the hotlines are overworked or no longer accessible, automated online processes have been suspended – it is currently nerve-racking to make claims for reimbursement. Travelers report frustrating experiences, many are desperate because the money for the trip has been painstakingly saved. And a voucher cannot be an alternative if it is already foreseeable that the parental leave tour in the motorhome through the USA will no longer be possible the following year.

The consumer advice centers advise in writing: “You should set a 14-day deadline to repay the travel price by registered mail and threaten legal action if the deadline is not met,” says Parsya Baschiri, travel law expert at the Bremen Consumer Advice Center. But even the legal step of the dunning procedure is blocked in many cases automatically, attorney Degott observes: “You only lose time with that.” Instead, those affected could also file a payment lawsuit, but an advance payment must be made to the court. If an airline refuses to pay, travelers can also contact the Public Settlement Service (SÖP). There are definitely chances to get your money back, “However, you have to be willing to fight,” says Degott.

What rights do individual travelers have?

If you don’t travel all-inclusive, you have often already reserved your hotel or holiday apartment in addition to your flight, perhaps booking a rental car. Claims for reimbursement depend on the law under which the contract was concluded. According to German law, the money must be repaid if the destination can no longer be reached due to travel restrictions or if it is no longer possible to stay there – this is currently the case in Germany throughout the country: overnight stays in Germany may not be used for tourism purposes. Even for hotels abroad that have been booked on the basis of German law, the contract can be canceled and the money returned: After all, closed borders make travel impossible, especially since a worldwide travel warning from the Federal Foreign Office applies until at least May 3.

However, if you have reserved your Easter holiday accommodation directly with the hotelier in Italy or with the holiday home owner in Denmark, you have to deal with the law of the respective country. In many places there are now only vouchers instead of money, for example in France or Italy. It may be possible to find an individual solution with the landlord, for example postponing the vacation to the coming year. The placement platform Airbnb has relaxed its conditions because of the pandemic: accommodations booked up to the end of May can be canceled free of charge. However, the “full repayment” option is not always displayed online – then you should contact Airbnb or the respective landlord directly.

What about the train and long-distance buses?

The train also runs in Corona times, only international connections and some regional trains have been canceled. Nevertheless, many customers forego planned trips because the vacation cannot take place, visits to the grandparents are too risky and meetings are now held by video. The train responds to cancellation requests from passengers much more accommodating than usual (and provides information online here for details): Tickets can be canceled or returned for a later date.

The Corona rules apply to all tickets purchased by March 13 for travel days through April 30. They can either be used flexibly until June 30th – the train is canceled – or returned. There is a voucher that is valid for three years for super saver and saver price tickets as well as for single tickets and country tickets for regional transport. The fare is reimbursed for Flextickets – however, this has already been the case so far. There is no processing fee. A refund is also possible if the travel date has already passed: Applications can be submitted until June 30th. In the meantime, the vouchers are also available online, they end up in the email inbox without waiting (here the train explains on its website how the new automated process works).

The coach operator Flixbus has suspended all national and cross-border journeys until further notice. Customers receive a voucher. Flixtrain customers can use their tickets on the IC and ICE trains of Deutsche Bahn until April 30th.

Moreover, a voucher does not have to be accepted for bus and train journeys canceled by the provider: the customer has the right to a refund of the ticket price for both the train and long-distance buses.

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