Germany and the Czech Republic – New rules as the pandemic relents

The system of rules for entering or leaving the two neighboring countries is turning into a non-negotiable thicket just as the actual pandemic appears to relent its grip.

The system of rules for entering or leaving the two neighboring countries is turning into a non-negotiable thicket just as the actual pandemic appears to relent its grip. It is true that a nation-wide (federal) entry decree has replaced the patchwork of state-level rules in Germany effective as of 13 May 2021, and that the Czech ministry of health has handed down a decree which liberalizes cross-border travel effective as of 15 May 2021, but the issue has meanwhile shifted from test-based certification to vaccination-based certification. We still lack a uniform, EU-wide framework on Covid vaccination, but intensive talks are being held with the goal to have that framework in place before summer. The World Health Organization (WHO) actually set a precedent in the form of a uniform format that has existed since 1962.

On 21 May 2021, a Germany-wide entry entry decree has rewritten the rules for entering Germany from abroad, and standardized the notification duty (via electronic registration), quarantine duty, and the duty to provide proof (in the form of a corona test) on the federal level. Under this decree, all these duties (of notification, testing, and quarantining) apply in principle but are being waived in practice for visits of up to 72 hours (as per the exception set out in Sec. 6 (1) No. 11); in addition, most of the rules will expire on 30 June 2021 based on a sunset clause. Because of all this, the information one may obtain e.g. from the website of the German embassy in Prague is reduced to a minimum:

However, the duty of providing evidence in the form of a test is not clearly defined in the new decree, and in fact inscrutable due to the bouncing cross reference (Sec. 5, „proof”, without any definition, then from Sec. 4 (2) first sentence to Sec. 7 (4) first sentence and back to Sec. 4 (2) second sentence). Does the test have to be an antigen test or a PCR test, and in what form? How to prove that one has been vaccinated? The decree is silent on these issues.

The same confusion and non-transparency plagues the Czech rules, newly issued by the Czech health ministry effective as of 15 May 2021 (the decrees of 14 May 2021 amount to ten pages of operative provisions and twenty-two pages of reasoning… let us be real here: at this volume of legislation, with quantity prevailing over quality, it is no longer clear to the citizen, whether they be Czech or from abroad, which rules are meant to apply in what form). The decree continues to slacken the rules for entry to the Czech Republic, and entering the country is entirely now without restrictions for anyone who has received the full course of vaccination in the Czech Republic, provided that the vaccine has been certified for use in the EU (i.e., for instance, Biontech/Pfizer, Moderna, or AstraZeneca, but not Sputnik V or Sinovac). Such individuals, who received full vaccination in the Czech Republic, are now granted equal status to those who have been vaccinated in the other V4 countries (Poland, Hungary, Slovakia), or in Austria, Slovenia, and Germany. It is unfathomable why this privilege is being granted for purely political reasons (V4, Slovenia, Germany, Austria) as opposed to epidemiological reasons (vaccination with an EU-certified vaccine anywhere in the world, whether in other EU member states such as the Baltics, Italy, France, or Spain – or, for that matter, the U.S., the UK, or Turkey; or proof of vaccination in accordance with the rules of the WHO). The problem is of course being compounded by the fact that such proof (especially in electronic form) has yet to be formalized on the EU level and globally, the intensive on-going discussions notwithstanding. Contrast this with the fact that the WHO vaccination card provides a uniform format that has been in place for almost 60 years – analog-only, to be fair, but still better than nothing – and is being recognized in over 150 countries.

One comes away from all this with the impression that the measures – both in Germany and in the Czech Republic – are becoming less and less transparent, and are motivated increasingly by politics (rather than by legal or epidemiological considerations). In addition, the enforcement of the rules has become random and haphazard – compliance is no longer being monitored in any systematic manner.

Ministry of Health of the Czech Republic, protective measure (Ref: No. MZDR 20599/2020-79/MIN/KAN) of 14 May 2021, in force since 15 May 2021
Federal (German) Ministry of Health Decree on the protection from risks of infection with SARS-CoV-2 caused by incoming cross-border travel, based on the finding of an epidemic situation of national significance by the Bundestag (Coronavirus Entry Decree – CoronaEinreiseV) of 12 May 2021, in force since 13 May 2021.
Decrees on the state level, e.g. Bavaria or Saxony, are no longer in force.
Template of the WHO vaccination card:

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