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Germany may shut borders with neighbours over coronavirus fears

German leaders warned that they could not rule out shutting Germany’s borders with its neighbour countries because of troubling high coronavirus infections fuelled by more contagious variants in countries like Austria and the Czech Republic.

“We believe it would be sensible to declare both (Austria and Czech Republic) as mutation areas. This will likely happen,” said Bavarian state premier Markus Soeder.

He had warned late Wednesday that if the Czech Republic was unable to take appropriate measures to curb contagion, then a “border closure must also be an issue.”

Late January Germany banned most travellers from countries classed as mutation areas or places hardest hit by new, more contagious coronavirus variants. The new strain is being assumed to be more deadly and more contagious that the first strains and German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned it might also be reason to extend the strict lockdown. We wrote about it HERE.

READ MORE: Germany extends Covid-19 lockdown until March 7

Only a handful of exceptions are allowed to enter Germany from these countries, including returning Germans and essential workers.

With neighbouring EU countries continuing to report high infection numbers in part fuelled by variants, German leaders fear that keeping the borders open could compromise the country’s efforts to curb contagion.

Baden-Wuerttemberg state premier Winfried Kretschmann said in a regional parliament session that if virus variants were to keep propagating in neighbouring countries, then “of course that can in the extreme case also lead to border closures.”

Daily sabah reported that anyone leaving the region must now show a negative coronavirus test, with fines of up to 1,450 euros ($1,750) for anyone who fails to comply.

But Soeder, whose region borders Tyrol, said he feared that “a second Ischgl” was in the making – referring to the Austrian ski region which became a coronavirus superspreader hotspot early on in the pandemic.

Tyrol “is not taking the development seriously,” he said.

Meanwhile, Saxony state, which lies next to the Czech Republic, said it was imposing tougher checks from Saturday with restrictions to also affect cross-border workers.

Only workers in essential sectors – such as doctors or employees in elderly care homes – would be allowed to travel in.

But they would be required to take virus tests daily and commit to traveling only between their homes and workplaces.