By Hugo Daniel, inews.co.uk
Britons will be barred from entering Germany after it classified the UK as an “area of variant concern” due to the spread of the Indian variant.
The ban will come into force on Sunday, meaning only German citizens and residents, as well as those with essential reasons to travel, will be allowed to enter the country from the UK.
London’s German Embassy said the new classification is due to “local outbreaks occurring again, including cases of more infectious variants such as the Indian variant at present.”
German Ambassador to the UK Andreas Michaelis said on Twitter that the decision was based on data and not taken lightly.
He wrote: “Had a long discussion until late last night until this decision was taken. We looked at all available data and details. We did not take this step lightly. We had to move into this direction given the rules we have set ourselves in Germany. Will constantly check applicability.”
Spouses and children under 18 of a German citizen or resident can also enter the country, as long as the household are travelling together.
Those with an urgent humanitarian reason such as an immediate family bereavement are also able to enter, however anyone entering the country from the UK must quarantine for two weeks on arrival, even if they test negative for the coronavirus.
People who are only transferring from one flight to another will still be allowed in, however they must remain in the airport transit area.
The move comes after Spain lifted travel restrictions on British visitors, with the country’s prime minister Pedro Sanchez saying Spain will be “delighted, extremely delighted” to receive British tourists again.
Spain is lifting its restrictions on UK travellers from Monday.
Germany and Spain are both on the Government’s amber list, meaning travellers must quarantine at home for 10 days and take a pre-departure test and two post-arrival tests.
Earlier this week the EU postponed for at least a fortnight a decision on adding the UK to a safe “white list” of countries, despite it having a lower infection rate than any member state.
The postponement means British arrivals could be turned away from some EU countries unless they prove their journey is essential.
A key factor in the EU’s decision on the UK is the spread of the Indian variant in the UK.
Indian variant cases have risen by more than 2,000 in the space of a week, according to figures from Public Health England (PHE).
The latest weekly data for the UK showed there were 3,424 cases of the B1617.2 mutation – an increase of 2,111 on the previous week.
While most cases were concentrated in the North West – particularly Bolton – and London, PHE said it was seeing “clusters of cases” across the country.
Surge testing is being introduced to parts of west London after cases of the Indian coronavirus variant were detected.
People living and working in specific areas of Harrow, Ealing, Hillingdon and Brent will be advised to take a PCR test even if they do not have symptoms.