Germany will begin repatriating citizens stranded abroad as borders shut and airlines scrap flights because of the coronavirus pandemic, its foreign minister said, as Berlin issued a formal warning against holiday travel abroad.
The government has agreed to spend 50 million euros ($56 million) in a deal with commercial airlines to fly citizens home from affected regions, Heiko Maas said.
“Beyond that, we must prevent other German travellers from getting stranded abroad. For this reason, we decided from now to warn against all tourist travel.
“Please stay at home, that would help you and others. This warning against tourist travel applies worldwide,” said Maas, adding that the disruption to air traffic was far from over.
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.
Millions of children have been sent home as schools close, and non-essential stores are also shuttered in the unprecedented lockdown. Merkel has repeatedly pleaded with Germans to keep a social distance.
Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, has recorded 6,012 coronavirus cases and 16 deaths.