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COVID-19 Business Travel Updates for US, Germany and EU


Friday, December 17, 2021

Recently, due to the availability of COVID-19 vaccines, many countries have decided to lift their entry restrictions or change them so that travelers who have recovered from COVID-19 infection or who had been vaccinated be allowed entry. Here is an overview of some of the current entry requirements for international travel.

Entering the United States

As of November 8, 2021, individuals are once again allowed to enter the United States from Europe. For 20 months, an entry ban had been in effect in the United States for travelers from Brazil, China, India, Iran, Ireland, the Schengen area (26 countries), ‘South Africa and the United Kingdom. A proclamation issued by President Joe Bidenon on October 25, 2021 A proclamation on advancing the safe resumption of global travel during the COVID-19 pandemic has ended these entry restrictions and the need to exceptions of national interest (NIE) to restrictions. Travelers from most countries (the recent US travel ban from eight African countries went into effect on November 29, 2021) can enter the US if they are fully vaccinated and show negative coronavirus test results (via RT-PCR or antigen testing) which does not exceed three days upon departure.

Travelers must prove to their airlines that they have been fully vaccinated with internationally recognized vaccines before their departure. Currently, the United States recognizes Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca, Oxford-AstraZeneca / Covishield, Covaxin, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson / Janssen, BIBP / Sinopharm, and Sinovavaccines vaccines. A traveler’s last vaccination must have taken place at least 14 days before the intended date of travel. The United States accepts the COVID digital certificate from the EU as proof of vaccination.

Exempt groups include people on diplomatic or government trips abroad, children under 18, and people who cannot be vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine for documented medical reasons. People exempted from the requirements of the October 25, 2021 proclamations can enter the United States without being fully vaccinated, but must self-quarantine for seven days upon arrival and test for COVID-19 infection three to five days after their arrival. Entrance.

Regardless of the entry requirements related to COVID-19, all travelers still need an entry permit for the Electronic Travel Authorization System (ESTA) issued by Customs and State Border Protection. United (CBP). CBP advises travelers to apply for ESTA authorization online at least 72 hours before departure.

Entry requirements into the European Union

The European Union (EU) has a common approach for travel from third countries to EU member states. Entry requirements are constantly adapted to the pandemic situation as international travel gradually opens up. Currently, in principle, anyone from a third country who has been fully vaccinated with a vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) (BioNTech-Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen-Cilag) can enter the European Union. The last vaccination must have taken place at least 14 days before the planned entry.

EU citizens and residents as well as their family members are allowed to enter EU member states without being fully vaccinated. Further exceptions apply to persons for whom there are absolutely necessary reasons for entry. Absolutely necessary reasons may exist, inter alia, for highly qualified employees from third countries if their work is economically necessary and their work cannot be postponed or carried out abroad.

The EU also maintains a list of countries where the epidemiological situation has improved sufficiently (the EU white list), so that entry from these countries is possible regardless of the vaccination status of individuals. This list is constantly updated according to the epidemiological situation. The US is not currently on the EU white list, so entry from the US is only possible for fully vaccinated people.

Each EU member state can set its own additional entry requirements. The reopening of the EU EU, a clearinghouse for information on pandemic-related measures from EU member states, offers an overview of each country’s quarantine and testing requirements.

Entry requirements for Germany

All travelers to Germany from third countries that are not on the EU white list and who are not EU citizens or residents must be fully vaccinated. In exceptional cases, entry is possible if absolutely necessary.

In addition, all travelers aged 12 or over must provide proof of vaccination. Before crossing the border, proof of vaccination or convalescence, or a negative test result for infection (for example, an antigen test less than 48 hours old or an RT-PCR test less than 72 hours old. hours) must be presented to the carrier’s control or at the request of the Federal Police.

For previous stays in high-risk or virus-prone areas, digital travel registration is also mandatory. The Robert Koch Institute provides an up-to-date list of all areas of high risk and viral variants.

Unvaccinated or recovered travelers entering high-risk areas must also test negative on entry and enter home quarantine for 10 days. Home quarantine may be terminated prematurely if another negative test result is presented five days after entry.

At this time, it is not possible to travel from a viral variant area, as a travel ban is in place for countries where viral mutations are prevalent. Entry is only possible in a few exceptional cases (for example, for German nationals and persons with residence and existing right of residence in Germany, as well as members of their immediate family). Regardless of their immunization or convalescent status, these travelers are required to digitally record their entries, present negative test results on entry and self-quarantine for 14 days. Only those who have been vaccinated and recovered can shorten their quarantine period by showing further negative test results five days after entry.

Employer investigations into employee vaccination and recovery status

These extended regulations raise the question of whether an employer can investigate an employee’s immunization status or whether the employee has recovered from a COVID-19 infection on an upcoming business trip.

The vaccination and / or convalescent status of an employee, under Article 9 (1) of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), is considered health data and therefore a personal information protected in accordance with art. An employer can only request and process this information if there is a legal basis for doing so. If a business trip requires proof of employee vaccination against COVID-19 (for example, due to entry restrictions), an employer may request and process this employee information in individual cases. However, employers can only request the information for specific business trips and are prohibited from retaining the information for other purposes.

The COVID-19 entry regulations of many countries can largely determine the feasibility of a contemplated business trip, as the prospect of an international business trip will likely depend on the immunization status of the affected employees. This situation may give rise to a legitimate interest on the part of the employer in investigating the employee’s immunization status, as the employer would otherwise be unable to know whether a particular employee meets the entry requirements of the destination country. . It is only by inquiring about the vaccination status that the employer can guarantee that the employee is not turned back at the border, that is to say that the employee can fulfill his obligation to provide the contractually agreed work in the context of the business trip.

Whether an employer request for an employee’s immunization status is legitimate is therefore a case-specific and fact-specific investigation, which primarily depends on the entry regulations of the destination country. If the destination country requires a full vaccination for entry, it may be permissible from a data protection perspective to request the vaccination status of an employee.

2021, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, PC, All rights reserved. National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 351




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