Germany tightens border controls

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Germany on Sunday implemented more measures to keep coronavirus variants at bay, banning travel from Czech border regions and Austria’s Tyrol after a rise in contagious mutations.

A thousand police officers have been mobilised to ensure strict border controls and state-owned rail company Deutsche Bahn suspended services to and from the affected areas.

Interior minister Horst Seehofer announced Thursday that the states of Bavaria and Saxony had asked the government “to class Tyrol and border regions of the Czech Republic as virus mutation areas, and to implement border controls”, and that Chancellor Angela Merkel had agreed to do so from Sunday.

Germany in late January banned most travellers from countries classed as so-called mutation areas or places hardest hit by new, more contagious coronavirus variants. These include Britain, South Africa, Brazil and Portugal.

Only a handful of exceptions can enter Germany from these countries, including returning Germans and essential workers such as doctors. Trade links will also be maintained.

Europe’s biggest economy has halved its daily infections rate after more than two months of curbs that shuttered most shops, schools, and restaurants.

But fears are growing that the positive trend could be compromised by travellers from border regions that are reporting high case rates.

 The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 6,114 to 2,334,561, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Sunday.

The reported death toll rose by 218 to 64,960, the tally showed. 

Main Photo: Members of the German Federal Police check a car at the border crossing Hora Sv. Sebestiana-Reitzenhain, on the Czech Republic-Germany border, 14 February 2021. EPA-EFE/MARTIN DIVISEK

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