BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany is considering making all people returning from abroad face quarantine and compulsory COVID-19 tests after infection rates jumped above the level at which authorities say hospitals will be overstretched.
The latest proposal is contained in draft plans, seen by Reuters, which will be discussed by national and leaders in a Monday meeting when they are due to decide on the next round of measures to deal with the pandemic.
At their last meeting early this month, the leaders agreed a cautious opening, over the objections of Chancellor Angela Merkel, who warned that more infectious variants meant the pandemic would be hard to control.
According to the Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases, the number of cases per 100,000 population over a week stood at 103.9 on Sunday, above the 100 threshold at which intensive care units can no longer keep up.
Public fatigue over lockdown measures, now in their fourth month, is growing but the numbers suggest state premiers may be forced to pull the “emergency brake” they agreed to on March 2, reversing the opening of some shops.
The new proposals appear directed at people considering holidaying in places, like the Spanish island of Majorca, which are not considered virus risk areas and therefore do not currently trigger a quarantine on returning to Germany.
Holiday destinations should be targeted “since we can expect that holidaymakers from many countries will meet in popular holiday destinations, letting COVID-19 variants spread easily,” according to the draft plans.
Earlier, Stephan Weil, premier of Lower Saxony, told the RND newspaper group that the government’s earlier decision to lift the travel warning for Majorca had been a “serious error”.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Germany has increased by 13,733 to 2,659,516, the Robert Koch Institute said on Sunday. The reported death toll has risen by 99 to 74,664, the tally showed.
The draft plans would also tighten obligations on companies: those who were unable to offer their employees the option of working from home would have to provide them with two rapid COVID-19 tests each week.
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