The airport's test center is on the back of a white truck provided by Johanniter, a relief organization. The return travelers still had their luggage with them. Children were sprawled out on the nearby grass, soaking up the sun.
Read more: COVID-19 tracing apps prove to be a tricky business
It's summer vacation for Germany. Schools in North Rhine-Westphalia, the western German state where Cologne-Bonn Airport is located, have been out for weeks. Some people are already starting to return from their travels, raising concerns that they've caught COVID-19 while away, especially if returning from new hotspots, such as the Austrian resort town, St. Wolfgang.
The discussion of what to do with returning travelers, is a reminder of how the outbreak spread across Europe in the first place. In early spring it was another Austrian travel destination, the ski resort town of Ischgl, that many initial cases could be traced back to.
German officials want to prevent a repeat. Health Minister Jens Spahn said he wants to implement free, mandatory testing for those returning from risk areas.
Voluntary testing has already been agreed upon, with test centers set up at airports in several German cities.
Testing at Cologne airport is done in a mobile unit
Taking people at their word
Nils Kirner works for Johanniter's test center at the Cologne-Bonn Airport. He is very noticeable in his bright red Johanniter jacket, so people regularly come up to him with questions, regardless if they had already flown somewhere. An older man said he was running a fever and wanted to get tested, although he hadn't been anywhere.
“You can, but then you have to pay it yourself,” Kirner said, reminding him to adjust his mask, which had slipped under his nose as he got in line to be tested.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism German Foreign Office advises against travel to Barcelona
On July 28, the German Foreign Office issued an advisory opinion against non-essential tourist trips to the Spanish regions of Aragon, Navarre and Catalonia, citing the high number of corona infections as well as local restrictions. The Catalan regional government in Barcelona has said it regrets the decision, saying the regional government was acting responsibly while trying to protect lives.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism Amsterdam wants fewer weekend visitors
Concerned over a possible second wave of coronavirus, Amsterdam is requesting that tourists not visit the Dutch capital on weekends. Potential day-trippers should come between Monday and Thursday, the city said on July 23. The tourist influx has swelled to such a degree that recommended social distancing of 1.5 meters between people is currently not possible in the city center.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism Crowd management in alpine idyll
In order to manage tourist throngs amid the pandemic, Bavaria's Economy Minister Hubert Aiwanger is planning a live digital guiding system for visitors. Clogged streets, wild campers and overcrowding on hiking trails in the Alps — this brings popular regions such as Lake Tegernsee (photo) to their limits. The live update system is primarily intended to redirect day-trippers to less full areas.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism Eiffel Tower summit open again
Visitors to Paris can finally visit the top of the Eiffel Tower again — the third level of the world-famous landmark opened on Wednesday. The number of tickets available is limited, in order to assure social distancing measures between visitors. Distancing is also in effect at the Disneyland Paris amusement park, which is opening its doors again after a four-month obligatory closure.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism The end of the party
Due to illegally held parties, Mallorca is ordering the forced closure of restaurants at Ballermann and Magaluf, resort areas visited by German and British tourists. The regulation comes into effect Wednesday, July 15 for two months. The behavior of a few vacationers and local owners should not jeopardize the huge efforts to fight the pandemic, said Balearic Tourism Minister Iago Negueruela.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism Stricter face mask wearing rules on the Balearic Islands
On Mallorca and the other Balearic Islands, the regulations for wearing face masks have been tightened. To prevent the spread of the coronavirus, mouth and nose protection must be worn from July 13th in all enclosed public spaces as well as outdoors, whenever it is possible to encounter other people. On the beach, at the pool and during sports, however, masks are still not mandatory.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism Flights overshadowed by fear
Holiday flights within Europe are on the move again, with passengers sitting close together. According to an opinion poll by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), 62% of those questioned are afraid of being infected by passengers in the next seat. This was identified by IATA as the main reason for the decline in willingness to travel, which is now only 45%.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism EU relaxes entry restrictions
Starting from July 1, people from third countries with low infection rates may enter the EU again as regular travellers. These countries are Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Morocco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay. China will only be considered if it also lifts its entry restrictions for Europeans.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism Corona test center opened at Frankfurt Airport
A corona test center has been in operation at Frankfurt Airport since June 29, 2020. Here, passengers both departing and arriving can be tested to avoid quarantine. The standard procedure, in which the results are available as a download within six to eight hours, costs 59 euros. Around 300 tests can be performed per hour.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism Paris Eiffel Tower is open again
The Parisian landmark was closed for three months, and now visitors can go up it again. But only in limited numbers and on foot. There are 765 steps to the second floor viewing platform. Wearing a face mask is mandatory. The top of the Eiffel Tower will remain closed until further notice, as will the elevators. The number of tickets on sale is limited and they must be ordered online in advance.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism World famous Alhambra in Granada opens again
The Alhambra Castle in Granada in southern Spain will open its doors to tourists again on June 17. Initially, only 4,250 visitors are to be admitted at the same time — only half as many as usual. In addition, masks are mandatory. The Alhambra is considered the most important testimony to Arab architecture in Europe and is a World Heritage site.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism “Re-open EU”: A website with travel rules for Europe
Entry regulations, masks, quarantine? The new EU overview website “reopen.europa.eu” provides information on the coronavirus rules of individual EU countries — and in 24 languages. Tourists can enter their destination country on the website and find out about regulations that apply there. So far, the site contains information on 27 EU countries and is to be continuously updated.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism Germany's borders are open again
During the night of Monday (June 15), the federal police ended the border controls that had been introduced three months ago because of the coronavirus crisis. Complete freedom of travel between Germany and its neighboring countries is back in effect. At the same time, the Foreign Office's travel warnings for 27 European countries ended.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism German government extends worldwide travel ban
The beaches of the world people dream of, like here on Ko Phi Phi in Thailand, will have to do without German tourists. The German government has extended the travel warning for tourists due to the coronavirus pandemic for more than 160 countries outside the EU until August 31. However, exceptions can be made for individual countries where the spread of the virus has been sufficiently contained.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism Tourist pilot project launched on Mallorca
6000 Germans will be the first foreign tourists to be allowed to travel to the Balearic Islands from Monday (June 15). According to Spanish media, the pilot project is intended to test the security precautions at airports and hotels before all of Spain opens its borders on July 1. Germany was chosen because the epidemiological situation there is similar to that on the Balearic Islands.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism App to regulate beach visits on the Baltic Sea coast
A new app is to help manage the flow of visitors to the Baltic Sea beaches, Schleswig-Holstein's state premier Daniel Günther announced on June 7. Visitors use the app to register their desired time slot on the beach. If there is enough space available, they will be given an access authorization. The municipality of Scharbeutz developed the system, which could now also be used by other places.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism Italy reopened for Europeans
Starting on Wednesday (June 3), tourists from Europe have been allowed to enter Italy again, the country that was one of the worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic worldwide. A two-week quarantine for travellers from Europe is no longer required. This should save the travel season. Italians will again be able to move freely throughout the country and travel to other regions.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism Aida cancels cruises until end of July
The 14 cruise ships of the German Rostock-based shipping company Aida Cruises will remain in port until July 31. In many holiday destination countries the regulations for international tourism are still being discussed, the company announced. The Italian shipping company Costa is also extending the cruise suspension for its fleet until July 31.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism Colosseum and other sights in Italy open again
Rome's 2,000-year-old landmark can finally be visited again from June 1, and the Vatican Museums will also reopen on that day. Ancient Pompeii, south of Naples at the foot of Mount Vesuvius, is already welcoming visitors again, but only those from within the country. From June 3, however, foreign tourists will be able to return to Italy and visit the ancient sites.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism Tourism on Greek islands starts again
From Monday (May 25), Greece's islands will be accessible again by plane and ferry for domestic tourists. Taverns, bars and cafes are reopening nationwide. Ferries are to sell only 50% of their tickets, and taverns are only allowed to occupy half of their tables. The list of countries from which foreign tourists can enter Greece without a two-week quarantine will be announced at the end of May.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism Austria to open border to Germany again
The Austrian government has announced that the border with Germany will be opened on June 15. Tourism in Austria has been effectively suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. On May 29, hotels and other accommodation in Austria will be allowed to reopen. Austrian tourism is heavily dependent on guests from Germany.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism Start of the season on the North Sea Islands
Borkum, Juist (photo) and the other East Frisian islands are happy to be able to greet tourists again, even if it's a limited surge of visitors. Since May 11, overnight stays in holiday apartments and camping sites throughout Lower Saxony have been allowed again. Holidaymakers must stay at least one week. However, day tourists and hotel overnight stays are still prohibited.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism Will travel within Europe soon be possible again?
Holidaymakers might also be able to travel to the Balearic or Greek Islands in summer. “If there are very few new infections there and the medical care works, one could also think about a summer holiday in those places”, the government's commissioner for tourism, Thomas Bareiss, told the Tagesspiegel newpaper. Long-distance travel, however, is likely to be cancelled this summer.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism Holiday season at the Baltic Sea to start
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is the first federal state to reopen to tourists from all over Germany: From May 25th they can again stay in hotels, guest houses and holiday homes. 60 percent of the bed capacity will be released for this purpose. This means that the tourist season can start with the Whitsun holidays in popular holiday regions like the Baltic Sea and the Mecklenburg Lake District.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism Germany extends worldwide travel warning
Germany extended on Wednesday (April 29) its worldwide travel warning due to the coronavirus crisis to at least June 14. The Federal Foreign Office said that “severe and drastic restrictions in international air and travel traffic and worldwide entry restrictions, quarantine measures and restrictions on public life in many countries can still be expected.”
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism The Oktoberfest in Munich has been cancelled
The Oktoberfest has been cancelled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Bavaria's premier Markus Söder and Munich's mayor Dieter Reiter announced the decision on Tuesday (April 21). ”It pains us, and it is a great pity”, said Söder. But in times of the coronavirus, the danger of infection at the folk festival, which attracts about six million visitors annually, would just be too great.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism Mallorca worried about the summer
Hotels, cafes and souvenir shops are closed. It is unusually empty outside the Royal Palace in Palma (picture). The Easter season on the Spanish holiday island of Mallorca has been cancelled. The Majorcan hotel association now fears that due to the uncertain situation in the main markets of Germany and Great Britain, some hotels will remain closed even during the peak season.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism More Germans brought back from abroad
By Sunday (April, 5) 205,000 travelers had been brought back to Germany, according to the federal government. Airplanes from Peru and Colombia were the most recent to take off. More than 40,000 Germans however are still stranded abroad. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Twitter. ”We will continue our efforts to find solutions for the travelers who have not yet been able to return.”
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism A symbol of hope
A light installation on the Matterhorn in Switzerland is giving a sign of solidarity and hope in the fight against the corona virus. Encouraging messages are also being projected on to many other tourist landmarks around the world. “Stay safe”, “Stay at home” could be see on Monday evening on the Great Pyramid in Giza near the Egyptian capital Cairo.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism Huge repatrition drive
The German foreign ministry announced on Wednesday (March 25) that, together with tour operators, it had brought back more than 150,000 Germans from abroad. Tour operator TUI added that almost 95 percent of the tourists who were stranded because of the coronavirus pandemic are now back in Germany. They were mainly flown out from Egypt, Spain, Portugal and the Cape Verde Islands.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism Africa's measures to deal with the pandemic
African countries have also ordered numerous measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. South Africa, for example, has banned access to the country for people coming from risk areas. Nigeria is monitoring the temperature of travelers at airports, ports and borders. Cameroon has closed its borders indefinitely.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism Australia bans foreign travel
The Australian government has imposed an indefinite ban on all foreign travel by its citizens. Prime Minister Scott Morrison also called on all Australians who are abroad to return home. A 14-day compulsory quarantine for all people entering the country has already been in place for some time. Here, too, it has become quiet in the cities.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism Tourism in Germany comes to a halt
The coronavirus crisis is impacting travelers and the tourism industry with full force. Several tour operators, including TUI, has cancelled trips, and some airlines are shutting down. Germany's federal and state governments decided that overnight stays should only be used for “necessary and explicitly not for touristic purposes”. Germans are to “no longer take holiday trips at home and abroad”.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism EU external borders closed
The EU has closed its entire external borders for 30 days as from Tuesday (March 17, 2020). “All travel between non-European countries and the European Union will be suspended for 30 days,” French President Macron said in a television address on Monday (March 16,2020) evening. The Schengen Area, which includes several non-EU countries, has also closed its external borders.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism Germany brings travelers back home
More and more countries are sealing their borders, and many flights are cancelled. With special flights Lufthansa and its subsidiary Eurowings want to bring up to 6,500 stranded holidaymakers from the Caribbean, the Canary Islands and on Mallorca back to Germany. In Morocco, the German government is assisting German tourists who are stranded there due to their return flights being cancelled.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism Germany partially closes its borders to tourists
On Monday morning (March 16, 2020), Germany introduced entry controls at the borders with the five neighboring countries: France, Denmark, Luxembourg, Austria and Switzerland. Border crossings will be reduced to what is strictly necessary. Goods can continue to pass through, including commuters, but not travelers without good reason. The duration of the measures remains open.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism Austrian ski regions end season early
All ski areas in the Austrian provinces of Salzburg and Tyrol are ending the winter season early. Cable car operation will be discontinued as of Sunday (March 15, 2020). Hotels and accommodations will be closed from Monday. The provincial governments said that this should slow down the spread of the virus in the Alpine country. The two provinces account for most leading Austrian ski areas.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism USA: Entry ban for Europeans
Due to the spread of the coronavirus, the USA is imposing a general 30-day travel ban on people from Europe. The entry ban comes into force on Friday (March 13, 2020) at midnight (local time). It does not apply to US citizens residing in Europe who have tested negative for the pathogen.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism Italy increasingly sealed off
In order to reduce the spread, the border into neighboring Austria can only be crossed from Italy with a medical certificate. Slovenia has closed its border, and Albania has banned Italian air and ferry traffic. Many airlines have cancelled flights to Italy until at least 3 April. Germany, the UK, and Ireland tightened travel recommendations and called on their citizens to leave.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism Mediterranean cruises put on hold
The Costa Crociere shipping company is cancelling all cruises in the Mediterranean for the time being. The cruises will be suspended until April 3, the Italian company announced on Tuesday (March 10). The measure affects thousands of passengers. Ships still operating in the Mediterranean will only call at Italian ports to let passengers disembark.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism Winter sports season in Italy ended early
All ski facilities in Italy have been closed since Tuesday (March 10, 2020) due to the corona crisis. Prior to this, hoteliers and cable car operators in the South Tyrol region (photo) had already agreed to close their facilities. South Tyrol is particularly popular with winter sports tourists from Germany and Eastern Europe. The closure is effective until at least April 3.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism Travel warnings and border controls
The Czech Republic (picture) and Poland are carrying out checks at the border with Germany to protect against the spread of the coronavirus. Since Monday (March 9), travelers have faced random temperature checks. The German government has warned against travelling to risk areas. And air passengers from China, Japan, South Korea, Iran and Italy will have to expect controls when entering Germany.
Coronavirus: The consequences for tourism Italy in crisis
On March 8 the Italian government issued an entry and exit ban for the more than 15 million inhabitants of the northern Italian regions, which include the key business center Milan and the tourist magnet of Venice (photo). Cultural, sporting and religious events are also banned for visitors. Museums, cinemas and theaters remain closed nationwide.
Tests cost 90 euros ($105), but since the weekend they have been made free to anyone returning from a risk area.
“There have been considerably more people coming to get tested now that they're free,” Kirner said. How many depends on the number of arriving flights. “Six flights landed in only one night last weekend. So we had to find people to handle that.”
Read more: Germany braces for a second coronavirus wave
Volunteers also pitch in when staffing is stretched thin. They don't ask for a boarding pass to prove they've flown or where they've come from. “So far, we've taken people at their word,” Kirner said.
Nils Kirner heads the mobile testing unit at Cologne airport
Germany's public health authority, the Robert Koch Institute, counts about 130 countries as coronavirus risk areas. That includes Turkey, Israel, and the US. Within Europe, Luxembourg, North Macedonia, and Ukraine belong to that group.
Travelers from non-risk zones also have to pay themselves. Ute Menke did so, following a five-day trip to northern Italy with her son.
“Grandma is in the hospital right now. We got ourselves tested so my son can visit her again,” she said.
Airport testing to slow the spread
Testing at Cologne-Bonn Airport starts in a tent in front of the mobile station. Johanniter staff ask people for their phone numbers, then conduct the tests inside the trailer while wearing protective gear. Some travelers getting tested have arrived not by plane, but by car, having returned from their vacation destinations over land.
Results are available via an app, sometimes within 24 hours. False negatives are possible for those carrying the virus but not yet showing symptoms. Still, airport testing can help slow the spread, Kirner said.
Not only travelers come to the mobile airport unit for tests
Mandatory testing for people returning from high-risk areas is likely to come into force next week. The Federal Doctors Association has warned a follow-up test would be necessary five days after the initial one to ensure the accuracy of the first result, the association's chief, Ute Teichert, told German media.
Read more: Does the Oxford coronavirus vaccine promise immunity?
Germany's Patient Protection Foundation welcomes the move, saying relying on travelers' common sense is not enough.
If they don't have proof of a negative test result, those returning from risk areas are already required to self-quarantine for 14 days. Many of those waiting for a test at Cologne-Bonn Airport said they wanted to avoid that. Some said their employer would not allow extra time to quarantine, or only on an unpaid basis.
Viktor, returning from Ukraine, works for the airport as a mechanic, and was asked to get tested upon his return.
“I often fly with medical transports,” he said. That's all the more reason he has to prove he is healthy.