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"Schengen was not defeated by the virus": Germany reopens its border with Luxembourg

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"Schengen was not defeated by the virus": Germany reopens its border with Luxembourg
Copyright  Gian Ehrenzeller/AP
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German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and his Luxembourg counterpart Jean Asselborn celebrated the reopening of the border between the two countries on Saturday in a symbolic meeting on the Schengen Bridge.

Maas said this was a sign that the Schengen area, the passport-free zone where 26 European countries have abolished internal borders, was returning and he stressed the importance of a “Europe without borders”

Asselborn added the move demonstrated that "Schengen was not defeated by the virus, that Schengen is coming back to life and this is a very important step,"

A relaxation of border surveillance between Switzerland and Germany was implemented on Friday evening as well. Fences on the border were dismantled after four weeks of blocking circulation between the two countries.

It was feared that free movement within the EU would not return for a long time after various member states imposed strict border restrictions when COVID-19 hit Europe.

But Germany plans to gradually reopen its internal borders over the next month. On 15 June its borders with Austria, Switzerland and France will go back to normal.

A spokesman for the German interior ministry announced on Friday that EU citizens who are allowed to enter Germany will soon be able to do so without a two-week quarantine.

The move already applies in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state that shares a border with Belgium and the Netherlands. Other states are expected to follow suit in the coming days.

The rate of new cases and death rate have both steadily dropped since the end of March in Europe's biggest economy and there are only 15,000 known active cases of COVID-19 in the country.