UPDATES WITH CABINET DECISION; CHANGES HEADLINE, DECK; EDITS THROUGHOUT
BERLIN (AA) – Starting Sunday, unvaccinated travelers entering Germany will be required to provide a negative COVID-19 test result, the government announced on Friday.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet members approved tougher anti-coronavirus measures after a rapid increase in infections due to the more contagious Delta variant.
“All unvaccinated travelers entering Germany must take a test, regardless of whether they come by plane, car or train,” Health Minister Jens Spahn said in a statement.
“This way we would be able to reduce the risk,” the minister added, reiterating his call for people to get vaccinated.
Under the new rules, people coming to Germany will have to take a PCR test up to 72 hours before departing the country of origin.
Travelers who can provide proof that they are fully vaccinated, or have recovered from COVID-19 during the past six months, will be exempted from the measure.
Those who cannot submit a negative test, or proof of vaccination or recovery, will be required to quarantine for 10 days.
This week, Germany recorded its highest daily coronavirus cases for nearly two months, and experts have warned that the highly transmissible Delta variant may trigger “exponential growth” in infections in the coming weeks.
The Robert Koch Institute reported 2,454 new infections and 30 more fatalities on Friday.
New cases have particularly increased among teenagers and young adults, and at least 19% of the cases were travel-related, according to the institute.
The estimated number of active COVID-19 cases was 23,300.
The Delta variant, which was first detected in India last October, made up less than 2% of new infections in Germany three months ago.
The strain has since spread rapidly across the country and its share has more than doubled each week, rising to 60% of cases by the end of June.
According to latest available data, the variant’s prevalence in Germany has reached 91% this month, the institute said on Thursday.