Coronavirus: Germany initiates emergency plan to fly back stranded tourists

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The German government is undertaking an emergency program to bring back thousands of citizens stranded overseas due to the coronavirus outbreak.

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

Read more: Coronavirus crisis: What travelers now need to know

Details of the mission

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 shouldremain patient as “we won’t be able to offer a 24 hour-solution in every case.”

Read more: Coronavirus: How are Germany’s biggest airports coping?

Infografik showing the development of the virus

Travel warning

Maas said there was now a formal warning in place, advising Germans not to leave the country.

“W must prevent other German travellers from getting stranded abroad. For this reason, we decided from now to warn against all tourist travel,” he said.

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.

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