Germany on Monday lifted a ban on travellers from India, the UK and three other countries, where the delta variant of coronavirus has been found in the samples of Covid-19 patients. In fact, the variant is the dominant one found in the UK which scuttled the Boris Johnson government's plan to open up the country.
The Robert Koch Institute, a German federal government agency responsible for disease control and prevention, said that India, Nepal, Russia, Portugal and the UK have been downgraded to "high-incidence areas" from the current categorisation of "areas of variant concern". This would make it easier for travellers who are not German residents or citizens to enter the country.
The current rules in Germany allow only its citizens to enter the country from a variant nation and are subjected to two-week quarantine, regardless of their vaccination status. The "high-incidence areas" status will allow anyone from such countries to enter Germany provided they produce a negative test on arrival and quarantine on arrival for 10 days.
The quarantine period can be shortened to five days if they test negative for Covid-19. The new norms will be effective from Wednesday.
Travellers from high-incidence areas are also exempt from quarantine if they have been fully vaccinated.
German health minister Jens Spahn had said last week that the federal government will look into the situation (of allowing travellers form delta variant-hit countries) "in the next few days".
The relaxation in curbs is driven by the fact that vaccines have been found effective against the delta variant, which was first discovered in India.
"We think that in the foreseeable future, those who have received double jabs will... be able to travel again, without having to go into quarantine," German Chancellor Angela Merkel had said on Friday.
Last month, Dubai eased restrictions on Indian travellers who have received two doses of a UAE-approved Covid-19 vaccine. The country has approved the vaccines made by Sinopharm, Pfizer-BioNTech, Sputnik V and Oxford-AstraZeneca.
The passengers from India are required to undergo a rapid PCR test four hours prior to departure to Dubai. They must also undergo another PCR test on arrival in Dubai. Following their arrival, the passengers from India should undergo institutional quarantine until they receive their PCR test result, which is expected within 24 hours.
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