Wednesday, 4 Aug 2021

Merkel abandons plot to ban Britons from EU – Germany performs screeching U-turn

Boris Johnson says double jabs will be ‘liberator’ for travel

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German health minister Jens Spahn suggested tough restrictions on people arriving from the UK could be loosened if cases of the mutant strain, which originated in India, continue to rise. Under the plan, Britain would be downgraded from a “virus variant area” to a “high-incidence area”, meaning double-jabbed travellers would be allowed to skip a mandatory quarantine period. German Chancellor Angela Merkel had been calling on EU leaders to introduce stricter measures on British travellers amid fears over the growing number of cases in the UK.

But with the number of infections rising in Germany, its health minister said relaxing the rules would “not be a distant prospect”.

Mr Spahn added it was vital that double vaccinations continue to protect against the Delta variant.

He said: “We will look at the situation in the next few days.

“If both of these are confirmed, it will then be possible to treat Portugal and the United Kingdom as high-incidence areas.”

Delta infections represent around 50 percent of coronavirus cases in Germany, according to the country’s Robert Koch Institute.

This is expected to rise to between 70 and 80 percent in the coming weeks because the variant is highly transmissible.

To enter Germany currently, travellers need a compelling reason and must undergo a 14-day mandatory quarantine.

But any change to the rules could effectively open up an isolation-free corridor for double-jabbed holidaymakers.

Ministers are planning to open up travel to all of Europe by exempting people with two doses of a Covid vaccine from the need to quarantine when returning from amber-list countries.

Mrs Merkel is expected to discuss coronavirus travel restrictions tomorrow with Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The German Chancellor will also meet with the Queen at Windsor Castle on what is expected to be her final trip to Britain before stepping down this autumn.

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Mr Johnson wants double-jabbed Britons to be able to travel to Germany without entering the strict quarantine period.

He last met his German counterpart at the G7 summit in Cornwall, but those discussions were largely marred by the row over Brexit trade checks on Northern Ireland.

Mrs Merkel has been much more cautious with reopening travel routes amid fears that the Delta variant could plunge the EU’s sluggish vaccines rollout into chaos.

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She had urged all EU leaders to impose a 14-day quarantine period on all travellers from Britain arriving in the bloc.

But tourist hotspots, including Portugal, Greece and Spain, all revolted against the plan and announced that Britons would be welcome in their countries this summer.

Most EU nations have moved towards allowing double-jabbed visitors to enter without mandatory self-isolation.

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