Thousands of people have been returned to the German border since Sunday, when controls were put in place to stop the spread of variants of the coronavirus.
German authorities say police have detained some 5,000 people at the country’s borders with the Czech Republic and the Austrian region of Tyrol.
Controls were imposed for fear of two variants of the coronavirus: the United Kingdom, which is spreading in the Czech Republic, and the South African, which spreads in the Tyrol.
It is restricting entry to German citizens and residents, truck drivers, transport and healthcare workers and some others, including cross-border travelers working in “systemically important sectors”.
Everyone must submit a negative coronavirus test.
Home Office spokesman Steve Alter said that as of Monday morning, federal police had searched about 10,000 people and returned about 5,000.
The EU criticizes the closure of borders
Bavarian Governor Markus Soeder, whose state borders Austria and the Czech Republic, said on Thursday before the imposition of the measures that Tyrol authorities did not appear to be taking the issue seriously.
The controls have drawn strong criticism from Austria, and from the European Union, which expected a joint effort by member states to suppress the spread of the virus this time, unlike when countries took unilateral measures at the borders during the first wave la last spring.
“The European Commission is concerned about the recent unilateral decisions” on borders, Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said on Sunday.
“The virus will not be stopped by closed borders,” European Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides added on Sunday in the German daily Augsburger Allgemeine.
“The only thing that helps are vaccines and health precautions, in my opinion it is wrong to return to a Europe with closed borders,” he added.
The Commission “has made quite a few mistakes” as is “and should support us rather than hinder us with its advice,” Interior Minister Horst Seehofer replied in the daily Bild, referring to the slow pace of the EU vaccination campaign.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesperson Steffen Seibert defended the German measures.
He said “the German government had to act here” to prevent the rapid spread of more contagious virus variants.
The Czech government announced Thursday that it would isolate three regions, including two bordering Germany, due to a high incidence of the British variant of the coronavirus.
Residents cannot leave these areas and no one can enter, with certain exceptions, the Prague government said.
The Czech Republic has seen more than one million cases and 18,250 deaths from coronavirus.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the country’s 16 governors decided on Wednesday to greatly extend the country’s coronavirus lockdown until March 7 amid concerns that new variants of the virus could reverse a decline in new ones. confirmed cases.
Germany has recorded more than 2.3 million cases of the virus and some 65,000 deaths.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism