Germany tightens border controls in attempt to limit spread of COVID-19 variants

German police enforcing new border controls
German police enforcing new border controls Copyright AP Photo
By Mark Armstrong with AP
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With some exceptions, Germany's border with the Czech Republic is closed along with the frontier with Austria's Tyrol province.


Germany has tightened up border controls in an attempt to limit the spread of more contagious coronavirus variants.

With some exceptions, the border with the Czech Republic is closed along with the frontier with Austria's Tyrol province.

The new restrictions limit entry from those areas to German citizens and residents, truck drivers, transport and health service staff, and some others, who will have to register online and show a negative COVID-19 test.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that the new checks may cause some delays at the border and German police ``"will not just wave traffic through.''

However, police said there were no major tailbacks on Sunday morning.

The move has angered cross border workers who live outside Germany but have jobs in the country.

"The opinion of our commuters is - we will not live in Germany under any pressure," explained Zuzana Vintrova, President of the Association of Commuters. "We are not citizens of Germany, we work there, we work for them, we pay taxes there and again the borders are closed. That means we are back like 30 years ago."

Infection rates in Germany have fallen steadily in recent weeks but health officials are concerned about the possible impact of variants first discovered in Britain and South Africa.

Both have been reported in Germany but so far account for just a small proportion of cases.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and Germany's 16 state governors agreed on Wednesday to extend most of the country's lockdown restrictions until March 7, though schools and hairdressers can open sooner.

They set a new target of 35 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants per week before letting small stores, museums and other businesses reopen. That figure stood at 57.4 on Sunday, down from a peak of nearly 200 just before Christmas.

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