By Monika Müller-Kroll and Kate Blair
It’s now official: German Health Minister Jens Spahn announced mandatory COVID-19 tests for travelers returning from high-risk areas will start on Saturday.
The German government will cover the costs for the tests.
“I’m aware this infringes on individuals’ freedom, but I think it’s within reason,” Spahn told reporters.
Those who refuse to take a test could face a fine of up to 25,000 euros.
Previously, travelers returning from high-risk areas had to quarantine for two weeks or show a negative test result.
On Thursday, Germany’s disease prevention authority reported more than 1,000 new infections within 24 hours, that’s the highest number of new COVID-19 cases since May.
After two explosions rocked Lebanon’s capital on Tuesday, Germany is supplying Beirut with both military and financial assistance.
Germany’s defense ministry said the Bundeswehr’s “flying intensive care unit” for the transport of seriously injured has been prepared for operation from its station in Cologne.
A quickly deployable mobile military hospital could also be sent to Beirut in a matter of days.
In the meantime, the vessel “Ludwigshafen am Rhein” was dispatched from Cyprus to Lebanon on Thursday to provide on-site support.
The German government has already provided the Red Cross in Beirut with one million euros in emergency funds to set up first aid stations and provide medical care for the thousands injured.
The exact cause of Tuesday’s blasts is still unclear. According to the Lebanese government, more than 130 people were killed, including one German embassy employee.
Around 5,000 were injured. Many others are believed to be missing in the rubble.
A new survey finds a majority of Germans expect the government will reimpose strict pandemic rules in the coming months.
Of the 82% who believe we’ll see retightened measures, about 40% predict they will be stricter than they were in the spring.