Those responsible on the islands want “no opening at any price”, but “a responsible solution that does justice to the pandemic,” said the chairman of the shareholders’ meeting of the Ostfriesische Insel GmbH, Wilhelm Loth, on Friday. Therefore the islands propose a double testing strategy.
First test before arrival, second on the island
This stipulates that holidaymakers may only arrive with a negative PCR test that is not older than 48 hours. Such evidence is easy to control, as guests can only come to the islands by ferry or plane, said Wangerooges island mayor Marcel Fangohr (non-party). Two to four days later, according to the proposal, the guests should then undergo a rapid corona test on their vacation island. If you stay there longer, this should be repeated weekly. Secured by the tests, hotels, accommodations and restaurants could reopen, said Fangohr. “Of course, always on the condition that the incidence figures and the risk assessment are also rather low.” Day tourism should initially not be possible.
How can infected people safely leave the islands?
The islands want to propose a concept with this double test strategy to the country. However, some questions have not yet been clarified, such as how positively tested guests can safely leave the islands again – and who exactly is allowed to control the tests.
Althusmann: “The situation is more than serious”
Lower Saxony’s Economics Minister Bernd Althusmann (CDU) sees the problems that the islands have due to the tourism failure. “After a year of the corona pandemic, the situation in the tourism industry and especially on the East Frisian Islands is more than serious.” The increasing numbers of infections from the mutating corona virus may be worrying, but the tourism industry and the Ministry of Economic Affairs are working on concepts as to how first openings could be possible with comprehensive health protection. “With operational hygiene concepts, communal test strategies, limited capacity utilization and digital contact tracking, this should not only be made possible for the East Frisian Islands,” said Althusmann.
Rapid test center at the ferry terminal in Norddeich
The shipping company Norden-Frisia has already set up a rapid test center at the ferry terminal in Norddeich. “In the event that a mandatory test regulation comes, we are prepared,” said shipping company spokesman Fred Meyer. Business travelers or tradespeople can already voluntarily have themselves tested for Corona there. The offer is already well received, said Meyer. Another test offer is to be set up on Norderney in the coming week. The shipping company was “cautiously optimistic” that Easter holidays on the islands will still be possible, said Meyer.
Mallorca trips cause frustration with islands
Göran Sell from Ostfriesische Insel GmbH drew attention to the particular problem that the islands have due to the lack of holidaymakers: The economy depends on tourism, which has been idle since the beginning of November. Normally, the seven islands together recorded around ten million overnight stays and a turnover of around one billion euros each year. Those responsible on the islands are also annoyed that holidays on Mallorca are again possible without any problems. It could not be that holiday fliers were allowed to the Balearic Islands, but that people could not come to the local islands, said the chairman of the island shareholders’ meeting Loth.
Hope for federal-state consultations
How things will continue now should also be a topic at the upcoming federal-state consultations on Monday. Economics Minister Althusmann expects that prospects for the tourism industry will be shown there. However, the state government recently gave an Easter holiday in Lower Saxony little chance due to the significantly increasing number of new infections. “As much as we would like to make all of this possible: Unfortunately, the situation is still different at the moment and we are in a problematic phase,” government spokeswoman Anke Poerksen said on Monday at the crisis team’s weekly press conference.
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Holiday Islands present concept double test strategy NDRde Nachrichten Saxony