Berlin (dpa) – The federal government wants to largely stop access from the distribution areas of particularly dangerous corona varieties.
Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) said on the sidelines of a meeting of EU interior ministers on Thursday that the federal government only needed to clarify which exceptions would be allowed. Friday must have been a decision. According to Seehofer, “mutation areas” must be affected. The federal government currently classifies five countries in this way: Great Britain, Ireland, Portugal, South Africa and Brazil.
Germans currently in the affected countries should be able to keep entering, Seehofer said. “The opportunity must be offered,” he said. The tricky thing about the entry ban is that Germany wants to endure it alone – regardless of any EU regulations.
GERMANY «WILL NOT BE A PRISON»
Seehofer had already started the discussion on Tuesday about further tightening up the registration. The federal government wants to “reduce air traffic to Germany to almost zero”, he told the “image”. Now he made it clear that no blanket travel ban was planned to combat the corona pandemic and gave legal reasons for this. Constitutional lawyers believe there are “much higher” hurdles to such a move. Germany “will not be a prison,” Seehofer stressed in a “Bild” interview.
However, the entry ban for five countries is also a far-reaching interference in the freedom of travel. There are two EU partners, Ireland and Portugal. Portugal is also part of the Schengen area which is actually free from border controls. It was initially unclear what exceptions there would be. Seehofer spoke in favor of the strictest possible regulation: “I am for narrow exceptions, not Swiss cheese.” As an example of a possible exception, he mentioned the transport of particularly important medical goods. However, it remained unclear whether the movement of goods should in principle be excluded. Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) said last week, “The free movement of goods is not a problem at all now.”
According to data from dpa, the question of what happens when a neighboring country is classified as a territory of mutation is also relevant in the negotiations between federal ministries on the exceptions. Because then, for example, it would have to be examined which rules apply to border commuters.
BORDER CONTROLS HAVE ALREADY BEEN STRENGTHENED
The federal government had already made it difficult for the past weeks and months to travel to Germany step by step. Some 160 countries are now classified as corona risk areas, for which a test is mandatory no later than 48 hours after entry and a ten-day quarantine obligation, from which you can take a second negative test after five days. For nearly 30 of these countries – including the mutation areas, the neighboring Czech Republic and Spain, the most popular holiday destination for Germans – the rules were tightened last week. When entering from these countries, you must submit a negative test upon entry.
To enforce this, checks at airports and spot checks behind land borders – the so-called veil-knocking hunt – have already been tightened up. Seehofer emphasized that in the future, entry bans from the mutation areas will also be strictly controlled – at airports, on the road and in the train. However, there should be no stationary checks at border crossings and the associated traffic congestion. In all measures it is a matter of “getting ahead of the situation”. “We have to take preventive measures so that the virus cannot develop more strongly in us.”
NATIONAL SOLUTION WITHOUT RESPECT FOR THE EU
The Home Secretary explicitly said the decision was not to wait for a joint decision from the EU. According to the information so far, it is not expected that a European solution will be found in the foreseeable future in line with the German ideas, he said. “That is why we are now preparing it nationally.” In recent months, the federal government has repeatedly emphasized that in the second wave, dealing only with entry restrictions such as in the spring should not be repeated. However, other countries, such as Hungary or Denmark, have already imposed entry bans themselves.
EU heads of state or government agreed last week to largely delay travel in Europe. The European Commission then proposed more stringent testing and quarantine regulations for certain countries and regions. EU Interior Commissioner Ylva Johansson warned Germany and other EU countries of drastic travel restrictions. These can complicate economic recovery or hamper the health system. “We must have a balanced approach.” At the same time, the European Commission strongly discourages all unnecessary travel.
MORE THAN TWO THIRD GERMANS FOR DRASTIC RESTRICTIONS
It is still unclear when the planned new regulation will enter into force in Germany. The decision will likely be taken on Friday in the so-called circulation procedure – so without a cabinet meeting, Seehofer said. It is likely that the federal government will allow a day or more to pass before it takes effect. Classifying new corona risk areas usually leaves a buffer of 24 to 48 hours.
With the planned entry ban, the Minister of the Interior has a majority of Germans on his side. According to a study by the opinion research institute YouGov, 68 percent of Germans would like to reduce air traffic to Germany to almost zero in the fight against the corona pandemic. Every fifth respondent declined.