© AFP/Archiv/JOHN THYS
On Friday, the German Robert Koch Institute announced that it would reclassify Luxembourg as an "at-risk" country.
In a press release, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed the decision taken by the German authorities. The Robert Koch Institut (RKI) mainly relies on a country's infection rate to assess the current situation. Once the threshold of 50 infections per 100,000 inhabitants is crossed, a country is considered "at-risk".
In Luxembourg, the number of confirmed cases increased from 282 to 672 residents during the week of 14 to 20 September. After one month, Luxembourg has thus crossed the RKI's threshold of 50 infections per 100,000 residents again, with 107.33 cases as of last Wednesday. This represents a significant increase from last week's 45.04 cases.
The RKI previously classified Luxembourg as at-risk in mid-July. As a consequence, travellers coming from Luxembourg could only cross the border into Germany if they carried a negative Covid-19 test that was not older than 48 hours. Efforts were made from both sides to get Luxembourg off the RKI's list, which finally happened on 20 August.
Other areas considered at-risk by the RKI are for instance a number of French departments, the Belgian Brussels region, and some Dutch provinces. People returning from any of these areas to Germany have to comply with different quarantine and mandatory testing regulations, which vary from state to state.
In an interview on RTL Radio on Saturday morning, Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean Asselborn stated that for the time being, people should avoid any unnecessary travel to Germany.
Asselborn stated that since last Monday, he has had a number of discussions with his German counterpart, Heiko Maas, about the topic. However, he explained, the German government apparently only wants to consider the number 50 as a decisive factor.
The same rules apply as before: Luxembourg residents have to carry a negative Covid-19 test which is not older than 48 hours, if they wish to cross the German border.
However, due to Germany's federal system, different quarantine rules may apply in the different federal states.
Asselborn stated that his ministry is currently in talks with the neighbouring federal states of Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland to negotiate special agreements.
The minister also stressed that discussions with the German government in Berlin were ongoing, as the infection rate alone should not determine whether a country is considered at-risk or not.
Instead, Asselborn thinks that the so-called "corona scale" should be used. This scale does not only take into account new infections, but also the number of deaths as well as the capacity of local hospitals, or how many people are in intensive care. When all of these different criteria are considered together, Luxembourg's current situation is quite good, according to Asselborn.
However, the minister expressed disappointment over the fact that Germany is still sticking to the infection rate.
Luxembourg and Belgium have come to an acceptable agreement, but negotiations with Germany proved more difficult. Asselborn stated that he hopes the German government will reconsider its current position.