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Germany closes border to parts of Czechia and Austria

Germany closes border to parts of Czechia and Austria

Germany closes border to parts of Czechia and Austria

The German federal government has announced it will ban travel from the border regions of Czechia and Austria’s Tyrol, over concerns about the rapid spread of highly-contagious mutations of COVID-19 in these regions. 

Border controls between Bavaria, Saxony, Czechia and Tyrol

“The states of Bavaria and Saxony today asked the government to class Tyrol and the border regions of the Czech Republic as virus mutation areas, and to implement border controls,” Interior Minister Horst Seehofer told the Süddeutsche Zeitung. “That has been agreed with the chancellor and vice-chancellor.” 

Seehofer said on Twitter that checkpoints would be put in place at Germany’s border on Sunday, February 14. A spokesperson that commercial travel would not be disrupted, and that returning Germans and essential workers such as doctors would also be exempted.

Cases of COVID mutations multiplying rapidly in border regions

In late January, Germany banned travel from countries classed as so-called “mutation areas” - those where highly-contagious variants of the virus are spreading rapidly. Entry to Germany from one of these countries is only permitted in special cases - for instance those with German citizenship, residents of Germany, or essential workers. Up until now, no neighbouring country has been classified in this way. 

But in recent weeks fears have been mounting that Germany’s success in bringing down infection numbers could be jeopardised if travel is allowed to continue from border regions, where cases of both the “British” variant and the “South African” variant are multiplying rapidly. 

Austria has already imposed restrictions to stop people leaving the Tyrol region, which has been beset in recent weeks by what Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has described as the biggest outbreak of the South African variant in Europe. The Czech government also announced on Thursday that it would stop people from travelling in and out of three “hotspot districts”, two of which - Sokolov (Falkenau) and Trutnov (Tratenau) - lie on the German border. 

But the federal states were still anxious for Germany to take action of its own. Markus Söder, the state premier of Bavaria, accused Tyrol of “not taking the development seriously”, while Saxony announced on Thursday that it would start imposing tougher border checks from Saturday, restrictions that would even affect cross-border workers. 

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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