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Coronavirus: Germany flies home citizens stranded abroad

Coronavirus threats have caused Germany to fly back stranded tourists. The country has initiated an emergency program to bring back thousands of citizens stranded overseas due to the coronavirus outbreak.

It has struck a deal with some airlines to fly tourists back on special flights, particularly from Morocco, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, the Maldives, and Egypt.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas described the procedure as a “Luftbrücke” invoking memories of the extraordinary Berlin airlift program that flew supplies into a cut-off West Berlin during the Cold War.

Specifically, he said:

  • The government had set aside €50 million for the program, which will focus on package holiday tourists.
  • There was a particular urgency in Morocco, where between 4,000 and 5,000 Germans are stranded.
  • General rules for returnees would apply, and did not suggest there would be a general quarantine.
  • Tourists should remain patient as “we won’t be able to offer a 24 hour-solution in every case.”

Morocco has already taken stern measures against coronavirus and cancelled commercial flights to and from Germany while ferries have also been stopped meaning the only way to travel to mainland span is via the Spanish exclave of Cueta.

The government has also urged Germans within the country to stop flying out.

“To prevent Germans from travelling abroad and getting stranded it was decided that the government must warn against all tourist travel,” said Maas.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday urged all Germans to stop holidaying at home and abroad, as she announced sweeping curbs to keep them indoors to halt the contagion.

Germany is known to issue travel bans for war zones and crisis area but with the virus at large this measure had to change. The advisory gives strong legal backing for German tourists seeking a refund for cancelled travel plans, likely increasing the chance that people will choose to cancel their travel plans.

Maas also added that the travel ban would be beneficial to everyone and it applies world-wide.