German hotel owners angry over lockdown as holidaymakers head to Mallorca


BERLIN (Reuters) - German hotel owners are fuming over an extension to measures that bar citizens from going on vacation in their own country but allow them to travel abroad, as the industry struggles to survive the coronavirus lockdown.

Berlin on Tuesday extended a nationwide lockdown until April 18 in an attempt to break a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping hotels and holiday apartments closed for tourists.

"It's OK to fly to Mallorca if you're tested? But you can't stay in a Bavarian holiday apartment? It's simply incomprehensible," said Hubert Buchwieser, a holiday apartment owner in the Bavarian town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

Daniel Schimmer, a manager at the town's Garmischer Hof hotel, said: "We are frustrated, sad and disappointed that our industry is being treated this way."

The BTW tourism association said the decision fanned fears and frustration in the industry for its future. It called for pilot projects to test how hotels and tourist regions can reopen safely.

"People's patience is increasingly running out, and pandemic fatigue is increasingly getting to them," BTW secretary general Michael Rabe said.

Germans travelling abroad on holiday will need to present a negative COVID-19 test result before they return to Germany, even when returning from regions where coronavirus infection rates are not high, but they do not need to quarantine.

The no-quarantine move has been a demand from airlines hoping for a recovery starting with the Easter holidays after Germany removed several regions in Spain, including the tourist island of Mallorca, and Portugal from its list of risk areas.

German airline Lufthansa said it will work with travel industry partners to offer tests to travellers returning from Mallorca.

Easyjet will leave it up to passengers to organise their own pre-departure tests, it told daily Tagesspiegel.

German aviation association BDL welcomed the no-quarantine rule but said compulsory testing of passengers from non-risk destinations should be an exception only during the Easter holiday season.

On Mallorca, business owners were happy with the decision, but some locals worried about tourists spreading infection.

Maria, a 68-year-old pensioner from Mallorca, said: "How is it that we can't go to a different region (in Spain) and they can come from Germany or other countries?"

German tourists sunbathing on the island's sandy beaches welcomed the no-quarantine decision and said social distancing measures were enforced on Mallorca.

"We'll take the test... We are keeping our distance from other people and I think you can't really do any better," said Yvonne, 35, from the western German city of Dusseldorf.

(Reporting by Reuters TV, Ilona Wissenbach in Frankfurt, Klaus Lauer in Berlin and Marco Trujillo in Mallorca; Writing by Riham Alkousaa; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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