Germany has implemented new border restrictions as it seeks to prevent the spread of more infectious coronavirus variants in the country.
The German government will limit border crossings from the Czech Republic and the Tyrol province of Austria, with only health workers, truckers, and residents and citizens of Germany permitted to cross, according to The Associated Press.
Although Germany’s coronavirus cases have seen a slow decline in the past few weeks, the more contagious strains from South Africa and Britain have both been detected within its borders. Far more cases of the British variant have been detected in Tyrol, prompting Austria to require a negative test to travel within the rest of the country.
“[N]ot taking the mutations seriously would mean significant consequences,” said Markus Soeder, governor of Bavaria, which borders both countries.
Infection rates are particularly high in districts along the Czech border, he noted, according to the AP. He also said that the Czech parliament’s failure to extend the country’s state of emergency further complicated matters.
“On top of that comes concern at the moment with our Czech partners that it is unclear what will happen with their corona management,” Soeder said. “We are friends, we help; we gladly take in Czech patients if that’s wanted, but of course if there were to be no measures at all across the border, that means a significant danger.”
German authorities reportedly turned away nearly 300 of 717 people attempting to cross the Bavarian-Czech border Sunday morning, saying they were not among the approved categories. A smaller percentage, 247 people of over 1,000, were turned away at the German-Tyrolean border.
State governors and German Chancellor Angela Merkel reached an agreement last Wednesday to keep most nationwide lockdown measures in place through March 7, with a goal of cutting new weekly cases to 35 per 100,000 people before shops and museums can reopen.