Berlin / Prague (dpa) – The federal government has tightened border controls and entry rules to prevent the cross-border spread of the corona virus.
For a total of almost 30 countries with particularly high numbers of infections or particularly dangerous virus variants, a test for participation is mandatory from today. These risky areas include the neighboring country of the Czech Republic, the holiday countries Portugal, Spain and Egypt and the US. According to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, the tests are systematically checked at the airports and seaports. In the border areas with neighboring EU countries and Switzerland, travelers are randomly checked – this is called a veil check.
At the German-Czech border there were sometimes long queues due to the new mandatory test on Sundays. In the afternoon, the German police reported about 500 people at the intersection in the Bavarian Schirnding (Wunsiedel district), where a test station had been set up. The deputy mayor of the neighboring Czech municipality of Cheb, Jiri Cerny, told the German news agency that the waiting time would be two to three hours in sub-zero temperatures. The long queue is also unfavorable for hygienic reasons.
On the question of whether cross-border commuters pose a particular risk, he said only, “It makes little sense today to ask whether he or she brought the virus.” It is estimated that there are between 35,000 and 60,000 Czechs who work in Germany and regularly commute across the border.
For the veil hunt in the border areas to the EU neighboring countries and Switzerland, the federal police will initially deploy its personnel, who can be reinforced at any time, as spokesman for the Federal Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Dpa said. In addition to the federal police, the police in the federal states would also carry out checks. “The federal police have been asked to make extensive use of the control powers provided by the coronavirus access regulation, particularly in the virus variant and high-incidence areas,” said the spokesman.
At the largest German airport in Frankfurt am Main, the tests are checked directly on the aircraft before the actual border control takes place, the federal police reported. On Sunday, 17 flights from five countries should be affected.
With the tightening of entry rules, cross-border travel in Europe is becoming even more unattractive – but this is also politically desirable. Until now, the federal government had made a distinction between areas with particularly contagious virus variants and ‘normal’ risk areas when entering the country. Since midnight on Sunday, there have been three categories with different testing and quarantine requirements:
– “Normal” risk areas: these are countries or regions above a limit value (also known as the incidence) of 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the past seven days. This currently applies to almost all of Europe with the exception of individual areas in Greece, Finland, Norway, Austria and Denmark. Globally, more than 130 of the nearly 200 countries are wholly or partly “normal” risk areas.
– Areas with high incidence: these usually include countries with an incidence of 200 and thus significantly more infections than Germany (111). In addition to the above countries, Albania, Andorra, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Estonia, Iran, Israel and the Palestinian Territories, Colombia, Kosovo, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Mexico, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Panama, Serbia and Slovenia are included in this category and the United Arab Emirates.
– Virus variant areas: These are areas in which highly contagious mutations of the coronavirus have occurred. So far the UK, Ireland, South Africa and Brazil have been included in this category.
Travelers from “normal” risk areas must be tested for Corona no later than 48 hours after entering Germany. In addition, they must be in quarantine for ten days, but can be released prematurely by a second negative test from day five. The difference between the high incidence areas and virus variants is that a test is not required more than 48 hours before entry. In addition, there are fewer quarantine exceptions for the areas with increased risk. But that is regulated by the individual federal states.