Germany has implemented tighter border controls on its frontiers with the Czech Republic and Austria’s Tyrol province in an effort to stem the spread of more contagious coronavirus variants.
Speaking at the Schirnding crossing on the Czech border, Bavarian governor Markus Soeder said that “not taking the mutations seriously would mean significant consequences.”
Soeder, whose state contains half the German-Czech border and the entire German-Austrian border, noted that districts on the Czech frontier have particularly high infection rates.
“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, pointing to the Czech parliament’s refusal to extend a state of emergency.
“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,” he said.
Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said those working in “systemically relevant sectors” will be allowed to cross and authorities will be “pragmatic wherever it is possible.”
Infection rates in Germany have been declining steadily in recent weeks but officials are concerned about the possible impact of variants first discovered in Britain and South Africa.
Significant numbers of cases of the latter have been discovered in Tyrol, while the spread of the British variant has prompted a complete lockdown of some Czech districts on the border with Germany and Poland.