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Holidays in their own country were a real discovery for many holidaymakers last year. Now - after the long months of lockdown with travel and contact restrictions - they are possible again, but initially only in some federal states. What do the opening plans look like in concrete terms? What are the rules for traveling abroad? What test and quarantine obligations do you have to expect when you return? And what about bookings for the coming months?

Where can you go on holiday within Germany?

Made the beginning Schleswig-Holsteinwith four model regions on the North and Baltic Seas. There, with scientific support, it was tested how tourism, linked to strict test and hygiene requirements, affects the number of infections. The experience has been positive, which is why hotels, holiday apartments and campsites throughout Schleswig-Holstein will be able to welcome guests again from May 17th. You must present a negative corona test on arrival, and tests are also carried out regularly during your stay.

The rules will be similar from May 21st in Bavaria out. In cities and counties with a seven-day incidence below 100, hotels, holiday apartments, guest houses, youth hostels and campsites are allowed to open, and not only the rooms, but also the restaurant for their guests. A test every 48 hours is mandatory. Lower Saxony Already allowed tourism since May 10th - initially only for those seeking relaxation from their own country, since a court ruling without restriction. Other federal states want to follow in the next few weeks, the federal tourism guide offers an overview of the applicable rules.

The relaxation is usually linked to a low number of new corona infections. If it rises again, the so-called federal emergency brake applies. If the number of reported new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in a district or an urban district is over 100 within seven days for three days in a row, people are usually no longer allowed to leave their own apartment after 10 p.m., i.e. they are also not allowed to travel - or drive to the airport. Exceptions are only made for "valid reasons", for example the way to work. Vacationers then have to pack their bags again and go home.

Can a vacation in Germany that has already been booked be canceled if the corona situation worsens?

As long as the hotels are not allowed to accept tourists, travelers in Germany are on the safe side. If a hotelier or holiday home landlord cannot provide the accommodation at all due to official requirements, the guest does not have to pay anything for it under German law. He may withdraw from the booking free of charge and claim back down payments. Vacationers should refer to the "impossibility of performance", according to the Federation of German Consumer Organizations.

The relevant European travel guidelines apply to package tours: If they cannot be implemented as planned or if they are canceled by the tour operator, the customer gets their money back - within 14 days. Vouchers can be offered, but do not have to be accepted.

However, if the accommodation is open and the holidaymaker is only considering withdrawing from the trip because of the restrictions on site, mask requirements or closed sights, he is obliged to pay the cancellation costs specified in the general terms and conditions. If you want to remain flexible, you should look for a place that allows you to cancel your booking at short notice - there are currently significantly more of these than before.

What are the rules for traveling abroad?

In many classic holiday countries, a restart of tourism is being prepared with a view to the summer season. Quarantine requirements are falling, for example in Greece, Italy and Austria. A negative corona test is then sufficient for entry, which is being dispensed with in more and more countries for vaccinated and convalescent people. A standardized, digital EU vaccination certificate will make it easier to provide evidence from the summer. The Federal Foreign Office lists which rules apply in which country in its travel advice.

What is the significance of designating a country as a virus variant area, high incidence area or risk area?

As soon as a region is classified as a risk area, graduated test and quarantine regulations apply. The threshold value for a risk area is 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days. If it is exceeded, the Federal Foreign Office will also issue a travel warning, either for the entire country or for an individual region. The list of affected countries is published by the Robert Koch Institute.

What do returnees from a risk area have to consider?

As before, test and quarantine requirements, which are regulated in the coronavirus entry regulation, then apply. Basically: who from one Risk area returns, must register digitally and go into quarantine. It ends - this is new from May 13th - as soon as a current negative test result is sent to the responsible authorities. This also works immediately after your return, so that the quarantine is de facto no longer applicable. Vaccinated and Recovered do not have to be tested, but must also present the relevant evidence. If you were previously in a High incidence area was, i.e. a state in which the incidence value is more than 200, you can test yourself free after five days at the earliest. In addition, a negative test is required upon entry at the border - or, similarly, proof of vaccination or recovery.

The rules for travelers are particularly strict Virus variant areas. There is an entry ban; only German citizens and people with a right of residence are allowed to return to Germany. They, too, are subject to stricter test requirements and must show a negative test result of no more than 48 hours old at the limit, even those who have been vaccinated and recovered have no advantages. The quarantine lasts 14 days, you cannot test yourself freely. Incidentally, those who cannot work in the home office will not receive a salary after a voluntary trip to a risk area during this time.

For the return to Germany with the plane A negative test is always required regardless of the Corona situation in the respective country, i.e. also when returning from a non-risk area. It must be presented to the airline before take-off abroad - otherwise the passenger is not allowed to board. Children up to five years of age as well as those who have been fully vaccinated and those who have recovered with appropriate evidence are excluded.

In principle, travelers have to bear the test costs themselves - and in the event of a positive result in accordance with the applicable local regulations, they must go into isolation independently and at their own expense. When it comes to package tours, the organizer often steps in, as does the organization of a new flight: Corona insurance is usually included in the travel price. The test certificate may be presented on paper or in digital form; the smear may have been taken no more than 48 hours before entering Germany.

What about families where parents are vaccinated and children are not?

Then it gets a little more complicated. You do not have to delete the vacation plans, but be prepared for the fact that the children have to show a negative test result both when entering the holiday country and when returning to Germany. There are exceptions for the very little ones, but even here the states proceed differently. In Austria children up to the age of ten are free, in Croatia up to their seventh birthday. For Spain and Greece, tests must be carried out from the age of six, in Italy only children under two years of age are exempt. When returning to Germany from a risk area, the rules for non-vaccinated persons apply to children from the age of six: If the test result is negative, they do not have to be in quarantine. After a vacation in a high-incidence area like Croatia, however, at least five days of isolation at home are mandatory.

What about travel in the coming months?

When and where you can travel again in the summer will depend on whether the number of new infections can be permanently reduced. The long-booked summer vacation cannot simply be canceled free of charge for fear of Corona: This is not sufficient as a reason for cancellation. Vacationers who are already sure that they do not want to travel should contact their host: Perhaps the hotelier will agree to postpone their stay. He is not obliged to do so.

The legal situation for package holidaymakers is somewhat better if a travel warning is issued for their holiday destination. You can withdraw from the contract without having to pay the usual cancellation fees if "unavoidable, extraordinary circumstances" "significantly affect the implementation of the package tour or the transport of people to the destination". However, this must not have been foreseeable when booking. Even if the organizer cancels the trip, he has to reimburse the money. As a rule, individual travelers do not have this option.

If you book now, you should therefore pay attention to the most flexible cancellation conditions possible. Many providers now allow short-term cancellation in order to win customers in this way, but some charge a surcharge for this.