Germany on Friday issued a ban on most travel from the United Kingdom (U.K.), citing concerns about the spread of more infectious variants, including a new variant found in India, throughout the country.
The restrictions came the same day the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s disease control and prevention agency, added Great Britain and Northern Ireland among its list of international areas of concern, labeling it a “virus variant area.”
As a result, the German embassy in London issued a statement saying that among the concerns was the COVID-19 variant first found in India, B.1.617, which the World Health Organization earlier this month declared a “variant of concern.”
Germany’s ban on travel from the U.K., which will officially begin on Sunday, does not apply to German citizens or “persons with a domicile and right of residence in the Federal Republic of Germany and their spouses or registered civil partners from the same household, and minor children.”
The restrictions also do not apply to those who remain in the airport as they transfer from one flight to another.
German citizens and residents who are allowed to travel from the U.K. must quarantine for two weeks upon arrival, the German embassy said.
Germany has classified the UK as an area of variant of concern, with effect from 23 May. Therefore a ban on transportation and entry into Germany applies from 23 May. Details and exceptions here: https://t.co/EmMuH1IuVo— German Embassy London (@GermanEmbassy) May 21, 2021
The travel ban comes after dozens of nations earlier in the pandemic suspended or imposed restrictions on travel from the U.K. due to the spread of the B.1.1.7 variant, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last month labeled the dominant source of new COVID-19 infections in the U.S.
Health experts have identified the B.1.617 variant as the cause of India’s recent surge in coronavirus infections and deaths as the country struggles to impose health restrictions in the densely populated nation.
The Indian variant has now spread to the U.K., where 3,424 cases have been recorded, an increase from 1,313 total reported last week, according to U.K. government data.
The concern regarding variants comes as the U.K. this week officially lifted several coronavirus restrictions on businesses and activities, including the reopening of cinemas, theaters, museums and other attractions.
Announcing the plans last week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also said that colleges would be allowed to resume in-person instruction, though he advised that students be tested for COVID-19 twice a week.
The eased restrictions also include lifted mask mandates in certain settings and increased capacity limits for indoor and outdoor gatherings.