Germany is to introduce obligatory testing for all travellers returning from regions considered to be coronavirus high risk hotspots, its health minister has said.
Jens Spahn said he would introduce mandatory testing as soon as legislation was in place to do so. The move has broad cross-party support amid a rise in Germany’s own coronavirus rates, which have been at least in part put down to hundreds of thousands of Germans returning from foreign holidays.
Currently 130 regions are on Germany’s list of high risk areas.
Earlier on Monday, the state of Bavaria spearheaded the mass rollout of coronavirus testing facilities in the hope of reaching as many returning holidaymakers as possible.
Airports, railway stations and main border crossings used by car travellers are to be kitted out with mobile testing units, Markus Söder, the leader of the southern state, announced on Monday morning.
Hundreds of thousands of seasonal workers employed on farms across the state will also be offered tests after a significant outbreak at a vegetable plantation in eastern Bavaria.
Particular attention will be paid to people returning from 130 areas considered high risk by the government’s public health advisers. The number has risen from 100 regions last week, reflecting the global spread of the outbreak in recent days.
Testing in the state will initially be voluntary and free of charge to the person being tested, Söder said. But he added: “We need the federal government to ensure this becomes obligatory. And this needs to happen as quickly as possible.”
There is growing political consensus across the parties that obligatory testing makes increasing sense amid a surge in the number of cases of the virus both at home and abroad.
Helge Braun, chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff, has said he will be looking into the legal requirements in conjunction with Spahn.
The leader of the pro-business FDP, Christian Lindner, said people should be expected to pay for their own tests.