At the Kiefersfelden border post between Germany and Austria, crossings are now done in a trickle way. Mask on the face, police officers wrapped in thick yellow anoraks and hats facing the polar temperatures filter the traffic.
Berlin largely closed its borders with the Czech Republic and Austrian Tyrol on Sunday in an attempt to contain the spread of the highly contagious variants of the coronavirus, causing friction with the European Union.
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“People who are not among the few permitted exceptions will not be able to enter“on German territory, Home Minister Horst Seehofer warned in the Sunday edition of the daily Bild.
This is particularly the case in Kiefersfelden where vehicles are scrupulously checked.
Only allowed to pass: Germans, people residing in the country as well as cross-border workers and professions considered strategic, such as the transport of goods, on condition of being able to present a very recent negative PCR test for the coronavirus.
A large system of a thousand police officers is mobilized to ensure these checks. The Deutsche Bahn railway company suspended its connections with these areas and on Sunday morning the police carried out checks at the arrivals of Frankfurt airport.
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These restrictions were decided on due to the German government’s fears of a new wave of Covid-19 contamination from the British and South African variants of the virus. However, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and the Austrian region of Tyrol are considered by Berlin to be at high risk.
Border controls could also soon be established at the border with Moselle, a French department where the circulation of variants is particularly active.
“Any new intrusion must be prevented as well as possible“, argues the Minister of the Interior of Baden-Württemberg, a neighboring region of Bavaria.
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In the Czech Republic, motorists rushed across the border on Saturday, before the restrictions came into force.
“We are curious to know what will happen next because to have a test every week, and to pay it in addition, it would be a disaster.“Milan Vaculka, a truck driver in a hurry to cross the border and reach France, told AFP at the Rozvadov border post.
More than 2 million cases of contamination in Germany, in our news report of January 15:
These border measures are not to the taste of the European Union, which fears, as in spring 2020, the temptation of “every man for himself“countries of the bloc facing the pandemic.
“I can understand the fear in the face of mutations in the coronavirus but we must say the truth which is that the virus will not be stopped by closed borders“, lamented the European Commissioner for Health Stella Kyriakides Sunday in the German daily Augsburger Allgemeine.
“The only thing that helps are vaccines and health precautionary measures, in my opinion it is wrong to return as in March 2020 to a Europe of closed borders“, she added.
These criticisms have provoked the ire of the German Minister of the Interior, at a time when the European Commission itself is under fire in Germany for the slowness of the vaccination campaign.
“Now that’s enough!“, exclaimed Horst Seehofer in the daily Bild, the Commission”made enough mistakes” like this “and should support us rather than put a spoke in the wheels with his advice“.
Germany has just decided to maintain until March 7 at least most of the partial containment of its population in the face of the pandemic, even if the number of infections is slowly declining.
In the Czech Republic, a country that is among the main affected in Europe, with more than a million cases declared for less than 11 million inhabitants, three cantons, including two adjoining the German border, were placed under bell on Thursday due the prevalence of the British variant of the coronavirus.
Tyrol, isolated since Wednesday by the government in Vienna, is considered the largest European focus of the South African variant.