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Holiday in the pandemic: App-solutely safe and fully informed

5. July 2021 Published by Raphael Doerr

Enjoy a stress-free holiday with these apps on your smartphone.

What’s the tourist mindset like after a year of the pandemic? The Bavarian Center for Tourism wanted to find that out recently and discussed the topic with experts from the field of science for the annual dialog series “Rethinking tourism – Will everything remain different?” One conclusion doesn’t really come as a surprise: Focal aspects of travel and holiday in times of the pandemic are safety, health and reducing contacts. That goes for tourists who are more willing to take risks, as well as those who only want a low level of risk when they travel. Even though you can’t plan everything in advance, you can still take measures and precautions that make the vacation a little less stressful and hence perhaps a bit safer. To help you achieve that, we’ve compiled the topics of relevance to going on holiday in 2021 for you in this blog post. As part of that, we’ve combed through recommendations by experts and the media and scrutinized the key apps that will enable a carefree, unstressed vacation. One thing should be obvious: The smartphone has never been as important and useful on holiday as it is this year. The first part of the blog post deals with everything relating to the issue of safety and health in connection with coronavirus and focuses on vacationing in Germany.

The holiday period is around the corner and, of course, we’re yearning for a well-earned vacation. We googled to find a destination long ago, booked accommodation, and have taken out trip cancellation insurance just in case coronavirus thwarts our plans. The falling incidence rate is heartening, and restrictions are being eased significantly. Germany’s Minister of Health Jens Spahn says in the newspaper BILD: “This time we’ve a chance of having a really good summer.”[1] And even Germany’s best-known epidemiologist, Karl Lauterbach, voices optimism and forecasts a good summer, albeit with one caveat: The SPD’s health expert believes that restaurants have good chances, but not bars and clubs – and definitely not without a mask. Coronavirus is still with us, so not much will be possible without a mask in the summer of 2021, either. That goes not only for vacationing at home; anyone visiting neighboring European countries still has to comply with the all-too-familiar obligations to wear a mask, maintain a minimum distance and observe hygiene rules. In Italy, for example, masks must be worn in closed rooms in public spaces and on public transport, as well as in communal areas such as beach bars. They aren’t required on the beach itself provided you keep the minimum distance from persons who do not belong to your household.

It therefore makes sense to have enough FFP2 masks, which filter 94% or more of harmful substances and aerosols, with you just in case (at least two per person per day). After all, you sweat more when it’s hot and the mask soon becomes damp. Which is when you need to be careful: Once masks become damp, such as from our breath, their filtering efficiency is diminished. The masks must also not be washed, otherwise they become ineffective. What else do you need to take with you? A vaccine certificate, of course, if you’ve already had both jabs, a recent negative test, especially when traveling to neighboring European countries, and – what’s very important for this year’s holiday – the right apps for your smartphone.

A QR code scanner is a must just about everywhere

2021 is the year of the QR code, and that also goes for the summer holiday. You need a smartphone to scan a QR code. Most of them have a QR code scanner integrated in their cameras. If not, you have to download a QR code scanner. If your smartphone doesn’t support QR code scanning, experts recommend this QR code scanner, the NeoReader or the QR Code Reader from Kaspersky. Android users can scan QR codes without an app if the operating system on their smartphone is Android 8.0 Oreo and above. The latest Android 10 allows users to share passwords securely by means of a QR code. Smartphones with Android version 7 and lower require an external mobile app.

Summer time is Luca time

“You can’t do a thing here without the Luca app. You even have to register with the baker,” notes Ullrich. The 51-year-old has been a regular visitor to Sylt for years and knows the island pretty well. He estimates that around 80 percent of businesses are part of the Luca project and are open. Guests have to log in using the app and present a negative test or vaccine certificate. “You can remove your masks only once you’re seated, and sometimes there are glass partitions between the tables,” the hairdresser tells the newspaper Fuldauer Zeitung. And as one headline in BILD ran: “Curry sausage only with a test and the Luca app”. Curry sausage vendors in Berlin have to chase their customers away from the bar tables – unless they can furnish proof of a negative test. And: They log on and off again using the Luca app. Now you may well think that’s just typical of the capital. But you’d be wrong: Since all the federal states in Germany have purchased licenses for the Luca app, they’re also using it. The Luca app helps trace contacts if need be. Instead of writing your name and address on a paper list before you enter a restaurant or pub, you can scan a QR code to leave your name, phone number and address. As soon as it becomes known that someone was infected, the proprietor can transmit the data to the public health office, which in turn calls the people who were there at the time in question.

The Sylt website includes information such as: “Tips on traveling to Sylt”: Please install the Luca app on your smartphone before arriving so that you gain smooth access to all available establishments on Sylt. Luca is almost everywhere on Sylt: Whether in retail stores, hotels and catering establishments, holiday homes, event areas and all leisure time facilities – there’s not much you can do without the app. The Luca app can be downloaded free of charge from Google Play. More information on that can be found here.

The Corona-Warn-App (coronavirus warning app) from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI)

It notifies you if you’ve come into contact with an infected person and that may mean there’s a risk you’ve been infected. You can then take rapid action and so reduce the threat of your spreading the virus unawares. The app offers further features, such as a contact diary, in which you can document your personal contacts, and points out important rules of conduct. No data is stored in the Corona-Warn-App and the way it works is completely anonymous: It stores random Bluetooth IDs for a limited period of time in such a way that users and their location cannot be identified. The app is available for free in the App Store or from Google Play.

Keeping an eye on the incidence rate

If the rest of Europe is missing: If you want to keep an eye on the current daily incidence rates in your vicinity, you should download the EPICOM app from the not-for-profit association “Freunde Liberias.” The app pinpoints its users using the iPhone’s location services and presents a map of Germany with different colors to indicate the incidence rate. It shows not only the figure for the adjacent areas, but also a 14-day history to let you see how the numbers have changed over the past days. EPICOM also offers links to all the official websites of federal state governments, municipalities and districts, along with codes of conduct and official instructions relating to coronavirus. The app can be obtained free of charge from Google Play.

“Fallzahlen Aktuell” – incidence, vaccinations and more

The app “Fallzahlen Aktuell” (Current Case Numbers) lets owners of an Android smartphone keep constant track of the latest case numbers in their or any other region in Germany. It provides a quick overview of the Covid-19 case numbers for Germany, as well as of daily new infections, deaths and recoveries. You can also see the total number of Covid-19 cases in Germany. The app also supplies two heat maps for Germany: One provides an overview of the case numbers in the individual federal states and the other offers information on the districts, including all individual data. According to its developers, the app is compatible with all smartphones that run on Android 6.0 and above. It’s just three megabytes in size and obtains the latest coronavirus figures directly from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). A search is also integrated to help you find regions quickly. The latest case numbers are simply displayed directly on the smartphone’s home screen so that you can always see the current situation at a glance. The free Android app can be downloaded here: Fallzahlen Aktuell.

The CovPass app

It’s here at last: the digital vaccine certificate. The app to go with the voluntary vaccine certificate is called CovPass and is intended to help citizens load evidence of their coronavirus vaccinations directly on their smartphone in the form of QR codes. Proof of recovery from a coronavirus infection or a negative coronavirus test can also be displayed in the app. The app comes free of charge from the Robert Koch Institute and is voluntary. To use the vaccine certificate with the CovPass app, all you have to do is scan the QR code on the vaccine certificate using the app, after which is it verified. The next time you have to provide proof that you’re vaccinated against Covid, you simply show the app and have the QR code in it scanned. The data is then transmitted securely and the person checking you can confirm that you’re fully vaccinated. You are provided with the vaccine certificate after getting your coronavirus jab, either in a digital form you can scan or in printed form at the vaccination center, doctor’s practice or pharmacy. The CovPass app is also intended to make traveling easier. According to the magazine Chip, it’s expected to available for downloading for Android and iOS by the end of June.

The right smartphone for your holiday

The new Gigaset GX290 plus is the smartphone for summer 2021 and can even stay submerged for 30 minutes. It’s rugged and resistant to sand, water and dust and so the ideal companion on vacation. Whether on the beach or when you’re cycling, hiking or jogging – there’s not much that jolts the GX290.

The outdoor smartphone “Made in Germany” is ready for extreme conditions. Thanks to its metal frame and reinforced injection-molded, two-component TPU housing, the smartphone is water-proof and resilient to dirt and knocks. The optimized display lets you see everything with complete transparency, even in direct sunlight or the wet. The powerful battery overcomes every challenge with ease. And the 13 MP + 2 MP dual camera, with a Sony sensor and ArcSoft® optimization, means that every holiday snap turns out perfectly in outstanding quality. Even in different lighting conditions, the noise cancellation feature enables pin-sharp images, which can be touched up even more professionally thanks to enhanced features such as AI mode, ultra HD mode and night mode. It’s perfect for extreme environments, allowing you to take photos very simply using just one hand. And an external memory card helps deliver up to 256 GB of storage space.

Travel safely in uncertain times

In times of uncertainty, it’s especially important for holidaymakers to feel safe and above all to be well-informed. So if you’re thinking about what the right destination is in the time of coronavirus, you can keep up-to-date about the safety and security situation and entry requirements using the “Sicher Reisen” (Travel Safely) app from the German Foreign Office – directly from the most relevant source. The app also contains a check list to help you prepare for your trip and the addresses of embassies and consulates of the destination countries in Germany. There are also many tips about what to do in the event of emergencies on holiday, as well as the means of sending those at home a sign of life with the “I’m OK” button if, for example, the safety situation at your destination suddenly changes. “Sicher Reisen” is available for free for iOS and Android.

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