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Coronavirus / Covid-19: FAQ

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29.05.2020 - Article

Please be advised that the information provided below is primarily for German citizens, subject to change and no liability assumed. Travellers should keep themselves informed of any changes by regularly checking websites listed below and following advice provided by competent authorities in their host country.

Are there any repatriation efforts?

With four flights, for especially vulnerable groups, having departed Australia en route to Frankfurt, the Federal Foreign Office's repatriation program in Australia has ended.

We advise to arrange your return trip to Germany by commercial means or request the support of your tour operator. No further repatriation flights are envisaged.

Flight Connections

The United Arab Emirates aviation authority has suspended all their international air traffic (i.e. transit through Abu Dhabi and Dubai). Transit has also been suspended for Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore among others.

ATTENTION flights via Indonesia, incl. in some cases Brisbane via Denpasar/Bali: Travellers require an Indonesian visa that can only be obtained by presenting a ‘health certificate’ issued by a hospital. The duration of the visa application process makes transits through Indonesia impractical in most cases.

Since Monday 20 April 2020 ANA in cooperation with Lufthansa has been offering flights departing Sydney via Tokyo (Haneda; transit allowed) to Frankfurt (once a day on Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays; flight numbers NH 880 & LH 717).

Asiana Airlines is offering flight Sydney-Seoul-Frankfurt on 30 May (then daily from 06 June).

Etihad Airways has been offering weekly transit flights from Melbourne to London since 15 May. Connections Sydney/Melbourne-Frankfurt have been announced to be available again from 16/17 June 2020.

Emirates Airways has been offering weekly transit flights from Melbourne and Sydney to London since 23 May. Connections from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to Frankfurt have been announced to be available from 02 July 2020.

Qatar Airways started flying Brisbane-Doha three times a week on 20 May (Monday, Wednesday, Friday). Daily international flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Perth will continue.

Non-EU nationals transiting through Germany should contact Qatar Airways directly and well before departure to clarify requirements for boarding their Qatar Airways flight in Australia.

Qatar booking page: TRAVELHOME Promo

For domestic flights please note: Qantas and Virgin Australia have announced they have responded to a request from the Australian Federal Government to resume flying a minimal domestic schedule of commercial services; more information here: https://www.qantasnewsroom.com.au/media-releases/statement-on-minimum-domestic-network/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=Eloqua and here: https://travel.virginaustralia.com/au/minimal-network-schedule?utm_medium=email&utm_source=Eloqua)

I am planning a trip to Australia, what should I do?

Since Friday 20.03.2020, non-citizens/non-residents have not been permitted to enter Australia (see below).

Meanwhile, Germany has advised its citizens against non-essential travel abroad. The Federal Foreign Office has extended its worldwide travel warning until 14 June 2020. Important information for travellers can be found on the following websites: www.diplo.de/corona (German) and https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/en/coronavirus/2317268 (English).

Australian travel ban for foreigners & transit in Australia

Since Friday, 20 May 2020, all foreigners have been banned from arriving in Australia. The ban does not apply to Australian citizens and permanent residents.

Transit in Australia

Please note that onward domestic travel is not permitted (even if this is to meet a departing international flight).

Transits of up to 8 hours

German nationals transiting through Australia to another country do not need to apply for an exemption to travel restrictions or a transit visa if they a) are booked on a connecting flight from the same airport, b) are not going to leave the airport and c) the transit duration does not exceed 8 hours (https://covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/transiting-australia#2).

Transits from 8 to 72 hours

If the transit duration exceeds 8 hours, travellers need to apply to the Commissioner of the Australian Border Force for a travel exemption here: https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/help-support/departmental-forms/online-forms/covid19-enquiry-form. (Families or groups travelling together can use the one form. Passports and proposed itineraries should be attached.).

They also need a transit visa (Visa 771: https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/getting-a-visa/visa-listing/transit-771/travellers-eligible-to-transit-without-visa).

It is recommended to apply for these documents even if you do not plan to leave the airport/transit area, as, in case of longer transit times, Australian authorities can ask travellers to spend these at a hotel rather than at the airport.

Travellers planning or having to leave the airport before boarding their connecting flight, generally also need to obtain approval from relevant state/territory health authorities prior to travel in order to leave quarantine before the mandatory 14 days and connect with their outward flights. Mandatory quarantine is arranged by the relevant state/territory authority at a state government designated facility (usually a nearby hotel). State/territory authorities will arrange transfers to/from the airport. Regulations vary between state:

  • Transit through New South Wales: at least 48 hours prior to their travel, passengers need to apply for an exemption to the NSW Department of Health to leave the mandatory quarantine to go to the airport: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/covid-19/Pages/quarantine-exemptions.aspx (This is a separate process to applying for an exemption from the Australian Department of Home Affairs).
  • Transit through Victoria: you must go into mandatory quarantine at a Melbourne hotel until the time of the departing flight. Information on passengers who are booked to transit through Melbourne to international locations is provided to the Department of Health and Human Services by Australian Border Force for processing. You do not need to apply to the department on an individual basis for an exemption in these circumstances. VIC quarantine exemption guidelines. More information here.
  • Transit through Queensland (Brisbane): For all transits, including those that do not require leaving the airport, apply for a Queensland Entry Pass as an exempt person for transit purposes. This is a separate process to applying for an exemption from the Australian Department of Home Affairs. Any passengers going into quarantine must also pass the health assessment on arrival at Brisbane Airport (i.e. not showing any symptoms of COVID-19) and adhere to social distancing and personal hygiene requirements.

Please note  that transit regulations are subject to change and no liability is assumed. Please contact your airline for further details and refer to https://covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/transiting-australia

Mandatory self-quarantine for all international arrivals to Australia

A mandatory 14-day self-quarantine period for all international arrivals to Australia is currently in force until further notice. Since 28.03.2020, incoming travellers have no longer been allowed to continue their travel to their homes or accommodation before starting their mandatory self-quarantine period. Instead, they are being directed to designated facilities directly after appropriate immigration, customs and enhanced health checks where they have to remain for the duration of the 14-days.

It is important that you follow the self-quarantine measures prescribed by the Australian Government,. See: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/coronavirus-covid-19-self-isolation-faqs

More information here: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-international-travellers  and https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-travellers#foreign-nationals-entering-australia.

International travel ban for Australian citizens and Permanent Residents

Australian citizens and permanent residents cannot travel overseas due to COVID-19 restrictions. Dual nationals, or foreign nationals with permanent residency status in Australia, need to secure an exemption from the ABF Commissioner before they can leave Australia, even if using the passport of their other nationality. The reason behind this is the fact that dual citizens and permanent residents have the right to return to and enter Australia again at a later date. Individuals can apply online for an exemption on the Department of Home Affairs website: https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/help-support/departmental-forms/online-forms/covid19-enquiry-form.

Applications should include as much detailed information and supporting documentation as possible.  For example, individuals should include proof that they do not usually reside in Australia through evidence of working arrangements, school/university enrolments or property ownership.

The application should include other compelling and compassionate grounds as appropriate, including details on the reasons compelling the individual to travel – for example, care for elderly parents who live overseas, other family circumstances or medical issues. Any supporting documentation to verify family relationships and other claims will help to strengthen their case.

Where can I get more information from Australian authorities?

COVID-19 information is provided by the Australian Department of Health: https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/coronavirus-covid-19-resources and https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-travellers#foreign-nationals-entering-australia.

The Australian Government has set up an information Hotline: 1800 020 080; for non-English speakers: 131 450.

Contact details for Health Departments in the Australian states and territories are provided here: www.health.gov.au/state-territory-contacts.

Should I leave Australia?

The Australian Government asks international tourists to return to their home country as quickly as possible, particularly those without family support. Temporary visa holders who are unable to support themselves over the next six months are also strongly encouraged to return home. Many countries have imposed travel restrictions or taken other steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 disrupting travel itineraries. The German Federal Foreign Office's repatriation program in Australia has ended; we advise to arrange your return trip to Germany by commercial means or request the support of your tour operator.

Please note: Some German travel insurance companies can cancel travel insurances in current circumstances as an official travel warning has been issued by the German government. Please contact your insurance to confirm that you are properly insured.

Can I still travel freely within Australia?

There is a possibility of further travel restrictions within Australia. Some local flight routes are no longer serviced. Please keep yourself up-to-date, especially through contact with your airline or travel agent. Currently travel restrictions apply in Tasmania, South Australia, the Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia. These states have introduced a compulsory 14-day self-quarantine for all interstate arrivals. Please refer to local government websites for travel restrictions.

Where can I extend my visa?

Please refer to the Australian Department of Home Affairs’ website for more information: https://covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/.

The type of visa a person can apply for to remain in Australia depends largely on the type of visa they currently hold.  For example, those on Visitor visas would be expected to apply for new Visitor visas.  Those with Student visas should apply for new Student visas six weeks before their current visas expire; if their study is ending, however, they can apply for a Visitor visa to remain lawfully in Australia until departure. 

Temporary visa holders who are working in critical sectors such as healthcare and agriculture, and those who are unable to leave Australia and are not eligible to apply for another visa to remain lawfully, may apply for a Temporary Activity (subclass 408) visa. They can only do so when their current visa has fewer than 28 days of validity left or their last substantive visas ceased less than 28 day before. No application fee is payable for this visa.  More information is on the Department of Home Affairs website.

For visa extensions please contact the Australian Department of Home Affairs https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/visa-about-to-expire/stay-longer.

Am I allowed to enter Germany?

Germany has introduced travel restrictions for entries from outside the Schengen area on March 17, 2020. These restrictions will be in force until at least 15 June 2020. All corresponding entries by plane or ship will be affected. Entries will be possible for German citizens.

Temporary EU travel restrictions do not apply to EU-citizens and citizens of Great Britain, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland (including their family members) who are returning to their place of habitual residence. They also do not apply to third-country nationals returning to their place of habitual residence who hold a residence permit/long-term national visa. More information here: https://australien.diplo.de/au-en/service/02-Service.

Moreover, EU-citzens and citizens of Great Britain, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland and their family members will be allowed to transit through Germany to reach their home countries. The same will apply to foreigners holding a residence permit in one of these countries.

Please note: If you do not enter Europe at an airport in Germany, some airlines now request a permit for onward travel from your EU entry airport to your destination in Germany. Should you require such a permit for onward travel, please send an email to info@canberra.diplo.de; Please use the subject: “Transit Permit” and mention the entry airport (e.g. London) in your message. This service is free of charge.

Quarantine upon arrival: Persons entering the Federal Republic of Germany by land, sea or air, from a third country (all countries other than EU Member States, other than Iceland, the Principality of Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and other than the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) is now required to remain in quarantine for 14 days. The requirement to go into quarantine does not apply to people entering Germany for the purpose of transit (as long as they are not showing any symptoms of infection with the coronavirus). Travellers in transit through Germany must take the most direct route to leave the federal territory.

Moreover, they are required to contact the local health office (Gesundheitsamt) without delay to inform them of their entry into the country.

Where provided for in the relevant ordinance of the federal state (Land) concerned, this regulation also applies to persons entering Germany after several days of staying in an EU Member State, in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland or in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, if the data published online by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) (https://www.rki.de/covid-19-europa) show that the cumulative total of new infections in that country over the last seven days exceeds 50 cases per 100.000 population.

Excluded from these regulations are only such persons who are subject to an exemption provided for in the regulations issued by the federal state (Land) concerned and who display no symptoms of a COVID-19 infection according to the current criteria specified by the Robert Koch Institute.

Persons who are not German citizens are allowed to enter Germany to transit to their home country. The purpose of travel and the entry requirements for the destination and transit countries must be proven by carrying appropriate documentation (passport, registration certificate, residence permit, valid bus/train/flight tickets) that allows for swift follow-on travel. Persons with connecting flights at the same airport in Germany are, in general, not permitted to leave the airport transit area. More information here : https://www.bmi.bund.de/SharedDocs/faqs/EN/topics/civil-protection/coronavirus/travel-restrictions-border-control/travel-restriction-border-control-list.html

Arrivals from EU member states, Schengen partner states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) and Great Britain only: The following German federal states have lifted quarantine rules for arrivals from EU member states, Schengen partner states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) and Great Britain: North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Saarland and Schleswig-Holstein.

An obligatory 14-day quarantine period still applies to travellers arriving in Germany from all other countries (including Australia).

Please check the respective German state’s website to find out if a quarantine period still applies within the state.

Where can I find more information?

We recommend that all German travellers register with the German Federal Foreign Office’s ‘Krisenvorsorgeliste’ (ELEFAND). Registration is voluntary. This will allow German Missions in Australia to contact and advise German citizens during a crisis or other exceptional circumstances: https://elefand.diplo.de (Please insert 'Sydney' when prompted for 'für den Aufenthaltsort zuständigen Auslandsvertretung’).

The German Missions in Australia website (www.australien.diplo.de) as well as the Federal Foreign Office’s ‘Reise- und Sicherheitshinweise’ (https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/de/ReiseUndSicherheit/reise-und-sicherheitshinweise) are updated regularly.

The Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community answers Coronavirus FAQ on their Website here: https://www.bmi.bund.de/SharedDocs/faqs/EN/topics/civil-protection/coronavirus/coronavirus-faqs.htm.

In addition, you can stay up to date with the ‘Sicher Reisen’-App: https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/de/ReiseUndSicherheit/app-sicher-reisen/350382.

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