Germany is to advise its citizens against all travel to the UK because of the government’s coronavirus quarantine regulations, it emerged on Wednesday.
Angela Merkel’s government announced that it will lift its general warning against all international travel for much of Europe from June 15, when Germany’s borders are set to reopen.
But it will issue special advice that travel to the UK is “strongly discouraged” because of the requirement that all international arrivals self-isolate for 14 days.
“Travel advice is not an invitation to travel. We want to make this clear in the advice which may be that travel is strongly discouraged,” Heiko Maas, the German foreign minister, told a press conference.
“This applies to the UK, as long as there is a 14-day quarantine requirement for all entering the country.”
The move will come as a blow to the British government as it seeks to negotiate “air bridge” agreements to enable quarantine-free travel with countries deemed at low risk from the virus.
Germany is widely seen as among the most successful countries at containing the virus and is a key destination for British business travellers.
Talks have so far opened with Portugal, France, Greece and Spain, but a spokesman for the German foreign ministry said on Wednesday he was “not aware of any discussions with the UK about an air bridge or similar arrangements”.
Mrs Merkel’s government has previously rebuffed overtures from Austria and others to agree bilateral travel deals and instead pursued a policy of reopening all of Europe to travel.
Under the measures announced by Mr Maas, Germany will lift its general warning against travel to the EU and Schengen Area from June 15, when the borders with France, Austria, Switzerland and Denmark are due to reopen.
The general warning will also be lifted for the UK — but will be replaced with the new advice as Germany issues specific bulletins for countries where it has concerns.
Mrs Merkel’s government will also continue to advise against travel to Spain and Norway because they are yet to reopen their borders.
Germany ended its quarantine requirement for travellers from Europe last month but will reimpose it on arrivals from anywhere the rate of new infections goes above 50 per 100,000 inhabitants in the last seven days.
“We just did not take today’s decision easily. There were a variety of intensive discussions with our European partners in recent days and weeks,” Mr Maas said.
“Everywhere lockdown measures are being scaled back gradually. Hotels and restaurants are operating again. In many places, it has been possible to get the spread of the coronavirus under control.”
Germany brought around 240,000 citizens who were stranded by the pandemic home on special flights, but Mr Maas stressed that there would be no new airlift home for anyone trapped abroad by a second wave.
“We will provide the best information available for each country in our travel advisories,” he said.