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HEALTH

Denmark to open up border with Germany

Denmark announced Friday it would reopen its border to visitors from Germany, Norway and Iceland from June 15th, but said the UK and the rest of the EU would have to wait a few more months.

Denmark to open up border with Germany
Cars at the Danish border in Flensburg, Schleswig-Holstein. Photo: DPA

“On the other side of summer we are expecting an opening for the other Schengen countries and the UK,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told a press conference.

On entry to Denmark, tourists will have to present proof of a hotel, holiday home or camp site reservation outside the capital Copenhagen for at least six consecutive nights.

READ ALSO: Coronavirus: Denmark turns away 149 travellers after closing border

Overnight stays will be banned for tourists in Copenhagen, but they will be able to visit the city for day trips.

“The ban on stays for tourists in Copenhagen is about keeping the intensity” of the virus spread down, Justice Minister Nick Haekkerup said.

“We must avoid a super spread,” he added.

Optional screening tests for COVID-19 will be offered upon entry and at holiday destinations.

In 2019, Germans accounted for nearly 60 percent of all foreign visitors to Denmark, in terms of hotel nights.

Norwegians, many of whom have second homes in Denmark, account for eight percent.

Meanwhile in Oslo, Prime Minister Erna Solberg, announced that Danes would also be able visit Norway in the summer.

However both countries will remain closed to Sweden and Finland for the time being, with Norway also being closed to Icelanders.

READ ALSO: As Europe comes out of lockdown, what lessons can be learned from Sweden?

“There are today areas in all Nordic countries with a low level of infection, but there are areas in some Nordic countries with a very high level of infection,” Solberg told a press conference.

“That means we can't have a general opening between Nordic countries immediately.”

The Danish border remains closed to Finland and Sweden, which will, however, be able to benefit from an agreement before the rest of the European countries.

With 430 deaths per million people, Sweden has a much higher death rate linked to the new coronavirus than that of neighbouring Nordic countries Norway (43 death per million), Denmark (98), Finland (56) and Iceland (29), which have all imposed much stricter measures aimed at curbing the spread of the disease.

Both Norway and Denmark however said they were currently in talks with Sweden about opening the border between the countries.

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COVID-19 RULES

Bavaria pushes for stricter Covid regulations in autumn

Health ministers across Germany's 16 states are debating the government's new Covid plan - and politicians in Bavaria say they want more clarity.

Bavaria pushes for stricter Covid regulations in autumn

On Tuesday, federal and state health ministers planned to discuss the Covid protection proposals for autumn and winter presented last week by Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) and Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP).

However, some states and politicians are not satisfied with the plans. 

Under the proposals, masks will remain mandatory in air and long-distance transport, as well as clinics, nationwide. But federal states will be able to choose themselves whether to introduce further measures like mandatory masks on public and regional transport.

States will also have the power to take tougher Covid measures if the situation calls for it, such as mandatory masks indoors, but lockdowns and school closures have been ruled out. 

READ ALSO Masks and no lockdowns: Germany’s new Covid plan from autumn to Easter

The draft law states that there can be exceptions from wearing masks in indoor spaces, such as restaurants, for recently Covid-vaccinated or recovered people. 

But Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek (CSU) told DPA that these planned exemptions were not justified because vaccinated and recovered people can still transmit infections. “There are clear gaps in the current draft law,” said the CSU politician.

Dominik Spitzer, health policy spokesman for the FDP parliamentary group in the Bavarian state parliament, also questioned this exception, saying the rules “simply made no sense”.

“With the current virus variant, that would be impossible to convey, since even vaccinated people can continue to carry the virus,” the FDP politician told Bavarian broadcaster BR24. 

The coalition government’s graduated plan under the new Infection Protection Act, is set to be in force from October 1st until April 7th next year. 

The powers for the states are a first step, “but they do not go far enough for us”, Holetschek added, while calling for some points to be tightened up. “We need strong guidelines for autumn and winter.”

Holetschek said the government needed to tighten up the criteria with which states can adopt and enforce more effective measures to protect against the spread of Covid-19.

READ ALSO: Could Germany see a ‘patchwork’ of Covid rules?

Meanwhile, CDU health politician Erwin Rüddel said Germany was on the “wrong track” and the country should find “a completely different approach” to Covid policy than it has so far.

He accused the coalition government of being in “panic mode” and said he doubted the Bundestag would pass the proposals.

“I believe, there will be significant changes (to the draft)”, he said.

But the chairperson of the doctors’ association Marburger Bund, Susanne Johna, backed the plans.

“The proposal for the new Infection Protection Act gives the states sufficient possibilities to react adequately to the infection situation,” Johna told the Rheinische Post on Tuesday.

“The states can take regionally adapted measures to protect people if the need arises. I can’t understand why this concept is being called into question right away.”

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