Germany eases border restrictions after criticism

Berlin, Feb 16 (efe-epa).- Germany has relaxed border restrictions for freight drivers to ease long traffic jams on the borders with Austria and the Czech Republic after criticism from those countries and the European Union.

The controls, aimed at slowing the spread of the virus, on Sunday caused long queues of trucks from Austria’s Tyrol and from the Czech Republic territory.

The authorities in the German states of Bavaria and Saxony eased the rules of entry for cross-border workers or essential workers and truck drivers. All others are barred from entering, except for German citizens and permanent residents, or for those who have particularly compelling reasons.

Around 5,000 people were denied entry into the country on Sunday, when the restrictions came into force. Those who managed to enter had to present a recent negative coronavirus test as part of a lengthy process.

On Monday, Austria formally protested against the measure, which also drew criticism from the European Union.

The German government, meanwhile, defended the measure as necessary to tackle the spread of the Covid-19 strains and plans to extend it.

Health minister Jens Spahn plans to extend the measure until early March at least, as Austria’s Tyrol, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are at the same level of risk as the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil for the presence of the new strains. EFE-EPA


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