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Coronavirus: Germany partially closes borders with five countries

Coronavirus: Germany partially closes borders with five countries

Coronavirus: Germany partially closes borders with five countries

Germany has decided to reintroduce border controls with France, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Denmark, in an attempt to control the spread of coronavirus. The change came into effect on Monday morning. 

Germany reintroduces border controls with France, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Denmark

At a press conference on Sunday evening, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer announced that authorities had decided to partially close the borders with several of Germany’s neighbouring countries. 

“The spread of the coronavirus is progressing quickly and aggressively … One of the most important measures will be to cut off the chain of infection,” Seehofer explained. The decision was taken after the Robert Koch Insitute declared the French border region of Alsace-Lorraine as a risk area for coronavirus.  

Other neighbouring countries, such as Poland and the Czech Republic, have already introduced restrictions on travellers from Germany, meaning that the German border is now effectively closed on seven sides. 

Closure does not apply to goods or commuters

The closure, which came into effect at 8 am on Monday, March 16 (6 am on the border with Denmark), does not apply to goods or cross-border commuters. People with German citizenship or German residence permits will also be allowed back into the country. 

However, those “without a significant reason to travel” and anyone displaying symptoms of coronavirus will not be allowed to cross the borders in question, Seehofer said. According to the French Interior Ministry, the goal is to “limit border crossings to the strict minimum, while allowing people and merchandise to go through.”

The new controls are merely temporary and will be periodically reassessed as the coronavirus situation in Germany develops. 

Coronavirus situation in Germany

Seehofer warned that the high point of the epidemic in Germany had not yet been reached and urged people to practice social distancing. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases has surged to over 5.800, as of Monday morning. That’s a significant increase of more than 1.000 cases compared to Saturday. There have also been 13 reported deaths. 

In response to the escalating crisis, on Friday Germany’s federal states ordered the closure of almost all schools in the country. Deutsche Bahn has announced that it will be scaling back its timetable nationwide and removing ticket inspectors from trains

The Health Ministry has also urged all travellers who have recently returned to Germany from Italy, Switzerland and Austria to self-isolate for 14 days, no matter whether they have symptoms of coronavirus or not. The Robert Koch Institute has also added Tyrol and Madrid to its list of international risk areas. 

Meanwhile, Berlin has ordered the closure of all gyms, bars, clubs and museums. Restaurants will remain open for the time being but practice distancing rules. Other German cities are gearing up to introduce similar measures. 

Abi

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Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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