Germany issues travel warnings for ski regions in Austria, Switzerland, Italy

Man, wearing a protective mask against COVID-19, walks over a bridge in Salzburg, Austria

Germany issued travel warnings for popular ski regions in Austria, Italy and Switzerland on Thursday aiming to contain the spread of the coronavirus after the country reported more than 10,000 new daily cases for the first time.

The RKI public health institute said Germany must prepare for an uncontrolled spread of the virus.

“The situation has become very serious overall,” Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases told a news conference. “We still have a chance to slow the spread of the pandemic.”

However, that required people to stick to the rules, he said. A change in strategy was not planned.

Under the warning, travellers returning from high risk regions to Germany must quarantine for 10 days. They are allowed to get a coronavirus test from the fifth day. If the test is negative, they can leave the quarantine.

While Germany’s infection rates are lower than in much of Europe, they have been accelerating and the number of confirmed cases last rose by 11,287 to 392,049. Germany’s death toll stands at 9,905.

On Wednesday, Health Minister Jens Spahn became the latest prominent politician to have caught the virus. He placed himself in home quarantine after testing positive.

Berlin issued new travel warnings for Switzerland, Ireland, Poland, most of Austria and some Italian regions including the popular skiing region of South Tyrol after surging numbers of new coronavirus cases there. They take effect from Oct. 24.

The warning against unnecessary travel to Austria, which could have a big impact on the Alpine country’s winter tourism industry, excludes the province of Carinthia.

Austria last reported 121.4 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants over seven consecutive days, way above the mark of 50 seen by health experts as critical. In Carinthia, that number was at 51.5

However, there was positive news for Spain’s Canary Islands as the RKI took it off its list of high risk areas. As skiing seems to be off the table, German tourists could go there for Christmas and New Year.

The decision opened “good expectations from this (German) market,” said Yaiza Castilla, regional secretary for tourism in Canary Islands.

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