Germany: There's 'frustration' over vaccine rollout says expert
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Berlin has banned travellers from the Czech Republic, Slovakia and parts of Austria to protect itself from mutant strains of the virus. The authorities have set up checkpoints across much of its southern frontier to turn back all arrivals, except a limited number of exceptions to the rule. Rail, bus and air links have been shut down to prevent travellers from the banned areas.
Truckers, key workers and German citizens will still be allowed to enter the country.
France suggested the move goes is “not in conformity with the European framework” and claimed it had “negative consequences” for the fight against Covid.
Europe minister Clement Beaune said: “It’s a tough decision.
“I think it’s painful for German authorities. It had very negative consequences. I wish we did not have to use this kind of measures.
“German authorities themselves said they didn’t want to do it.
“It is the last resort. It is temporary, it will end as soon as possible and for now it applies to Austria and the Czech Republic, not France.”
He added: “I will talk this morning to the authorities of the German regions at the border with France so no decisions are taken without coordination from both sides. I don’t want Germany to completely close the border.
“We want to avoid a closure. If Germany still wants to do it because of its health circumstances, I would like us to define together the widest possible exceptions. We are worried about the products that have to cross the border and the workers who need to cross it every day.”
Austria has said the restrictions are “completely unacceptable” and urged Berlin to lift them immediately.
Interior minister Karl Nehammer said the measures would cause havoc for inter-Austrian travel between Tyrol and eastern parts of the country – the so-called “German corner”.
“This is completely unacceptable”, he said.
“This measures by Bavaria is half-baked and only causes chaos.”
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Germany’s infection rate has fallen from around 180 new cases per 100,000 people a week to 57.
But Chancellor Angela Merkel is worried that new mutant strains of the coronavirus could spark a resurgence in the number of cases.
More than 400 cases of the South African variant have been picked up in the Austrian state of Tyrol.
The Britain strain has been found in Slovakia and large parts of the Czech Republic, as well as some Bavarian areas close to the Czech border.
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German interior minister Horst Seehofer lashed at Brussels for its criticism of the border closures.
He said: “The European Commission should be supporting us, not throwing a spanner into the works with trite tips.”
His remarks came after EU health boss Stella Kyriakides said: “The only things that help against the mutations are systematic vaccination and sticking to hygiene rules.
“I think it’s wrong for us to go back to a European with closed borders as in March 2020.”
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega and Monika Pallenberg
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