Traveling during Corona: dream vacation in the high incidence area

Status: 09.03.2021 6:00 a.m.

While there is heated discussion at home about easing, long-distance travel to some countries is possible without quarantine or corona test. In places where one is dependent on tourists, there are often few protective measures.

By Christian Saathoff and Mona Botros,
SWR

Roger B. obviously feels at home in Zanzibar. He operates a streaming channel on which he regularly offers a platform to conspiracy theorists and corona deniers. Since February he has been reporting in numerous live streams from the African island.

Mona Botros
Christian Saathoff

It quickly becomes clear why he is in Zanzibar of all places: “The people are relaxed here. I have heard there is no hygiene concept. I haven’t seen a single mask here,” said B. in one of his videos – and demands his Trailer on: “Come to Zanzibar!” At a request from Report Mainz he does not respond.

Zanzibar has been officially corona-free since spring 2020

Zanzibar – a paradise for vacationers who want to escape Corona? Entry is possible without a corona test or quarantine. The government of Zanzibar, which belongs to Tanzania, had already declared Zanzibar, which belongs to Tanzania, to be corona-free in spring 2020 and has not published any infection figures since then. However, Zanzibar’s vice president passed away a few weeks ago. He had previously been infected with Corona at the end of January.

Travel to Zanzibar without Corona restrictions is advertised on travel portals and in Facebook groups. Vacationers post pictures and videos of Zanzibar on Instagram and YouTube, in which they dance and party in beach clubs, sometimes crowded, without a minimum distance or face masks.

“Disrespectful to locals”

The German travel entrepreneur Sabine Emmerich has lived in Zanzibar for many years. She denotes opposite Report Mainz the behavior of some tourists as disrespectful: “If you go into the city or walk into the crowd and you don’t wear a mask, you also risk the health of other people. The majority of tourists who are currently in Zanzibar behave like that.” Emmerich emphasizes that Zanzibar is absolutely dependent on holidaymakers: “If we didn’t have any tourism, the people would have nothing to eat – in the truest sense of the word.”

Mexico also has to rely on tourism

Another problem in Mexico – here too, many locals are dependent on the tourism industry, for example on the Yucat√°n Peninsula. Here, too, tourism has its downsides. Research by Report Mainz prove: Foreign tourists celebrate close together at tourist hotspots – including holidaymakers from countries such as the Czech Republic and Brazil, both of which are considered high-incidence areas in which virus mutations are particularly widespread.

Germans are also among the partying tourists. “Why should I limit myself in my life when I can live it out somewhere else?”, Said a German tourist, who wants to remain anonymous, in front of a well-frequented club in Playa Del Carmen across the street Report Mainz. “Maybe it’s a bit selfish, but I can’t always think about everyone else, I have to think about myself too, and when I feel like going on vacation, I’ll just do it.”

It is not advisable to travel abroad

Mexico is classified as a “high incidence area” by the German authorities. Anyone returning to Germany from Mexico must prove a negative PCR test before departure and, depending on the regulations of the respective federal state, go into quarantine. Entry from Germany to Mexico, on the other hand, is possible without a corona test or subsequent quarantine.

Scientists are currently generally advising against travel – and politicians are also calling for people to avoid vacation travel now and with a view to Easter. Travel, even in high incidence areas, is not prohibited, however. Other countries, such as Canada, have largely suspended their flight connections to holiday destinations such as Mexico or the Caribbean by the end of April.

Do tourists bring virus mutants with them from vacation?

The Berlin epidemiologist Timo Ulrichs from the Akkon University of Applied Sciences resented the pictures from Mexico with clubs in which hundreds of visitors cavort. “That is irresponsible, including anti-social behavior,” said Ulrichs in an interview with Report Mainz. He fears that the number of infections in Germany due to returnees could rise again with the travel season, as was the case last summer.

Ulrichs warns: “We have to expect that we will not only get more viruses in, which will then trigger further chains of infection, but may also introduce new variants such as the Brazilian, South African and others.”

According to research by Report Mainz a traveler from Zanzibar also brought the dangerous South African variant to Germany. There he infected five other people with it, so three had to be treated clinically. The Robert Koch Institute is currently recording a significant increase in infections with mutants of the coronavirus. For example, more than 40 percent of new infections in Germany can be attributed to the British variant B.1.1.7. The institute speaks of a “worrying” development.

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