Germany objects to border closures but considers testing returnees from high-risk areas

Two people witht their trolley bags walk past a road sign at the border crossing between Germany and Austria in Scharnitz, Germany. EPA-EFE/PHILIPP GUELLAND

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Despite growing concerns on holiday-makers returning to Germany infected with coronavirus, top German officials remain opposed to closing the EU’s internal borders for tourist travels.

Following an increase in cases reported over the past few days, health authorities and politicians have discussed a range of options including widespread testing at airports and travel warnings for high-risk areas.

Senior Christian Democrat (CDU) politician Ralph Brinkhaus defended the concept of freedom of movement within the EU’s border control-free Schengen Zone, defining it as the “DNA” of the EU. His comment echoed that of Interior Minister Horst Seehofer who expressed disagreement on the possible introduction of new border controls with Germany’s neighbors to carry out COVID-19 testing.

“I cannot imagine reintroducing border controls across Germany,” said Seehofer, citing the “huge political problems” caused by the temporary border controls with France, Switzerland, Austria and Denmark.

“Those who supported border controls, were the same who would oppose them only days later,” said Seehofer, recalling the logistical nightmares experienced in terms of transporting goods and cross-border communiting.

However, the Minister said that the mandatory testing for returnees from high-risk areas was not being excluded.

Brinkhaus appealed to all countries to find an important balance between health and travel, saying that controlling COVID-19 depends on member states taking responsibility for containing local outbreaks and individual citizens following prevention measures like wearing masks and maintaining distance in public places.
“If there is an outbreak, it must be combated locally immediately, and that is also the philosophy that we have in Germany. If we do things wrong, then we will head into a second wave that will also have economic consequences. That’s why we need to remain cautious,” he said.

Read more via DW

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