Covid-19: Border between Germany and Czech Republic to remain open

Unlike during the first coronavirus lockdown in spring, leaders from both Germany and the Czech Republic are pushing for their border to remain open.

Covid-19: Border between Germany and Czech Republic to remain open
Cars driving from the Czech Republic into Bavaria in June. Photo: DPA

Bavarian State Premier Markus Söder, from Chancellor Angela Merkel's Bavarian sister party CSU, and Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš want to keep the border open even if the number of coronavirus infections in both countries continus to rise.

“Closing the borders would not be of great benefit in fighting the pandemic, but rather would carry significant negative consequences”, said Söder on Wednesday in Munich after a video conference with Babiš.

READ ALSO: Should Germany impose border controls as Covid-19 rates rise across Europe?

He said that protective measures as face masks and minimum distances now applied on both sides of the border, and that mutually sealing off access would mainly impede the flow of trade and service workers.

Medical care would also be affected, said Söder, pointing out that many Czech commuters work in the care sector in Bavaria.

In order to help Germany's neighbouring country, which is particularly hard hit by the second wave of the pandemic, Söder also offered to make 100 intensive care hospital beds available Czech coronavirus patients.

Better economic support

Söder also pushed for aid from the German government to start in November.

“Culture, gastronomy and self-employed people urgently need support. In addition, the Federal Infection Protection Act had to be extended quickly in order to create clarity and legal certainty,” he added.

Babiš also emphasised the importance of the local coronavirus aid: “If the German economy goes bust, our economy will go bust too,” he said. 

The two politicians therefore also talked about cross-border infrastructure projects such as a 5G mobile phone corridor between Prague and Munich and the expansion of railway lines.

Bavaria is currently the German state most affected by the coronavirus pandemic, having reported 2,845 cases within the last 24 hours as of Wednesday afternoon.

The Czech Republic, which borders both Bavaria and the eastern state of Saxony, is one of the hardest hit countries in Europe, having reported 12,089 coronavirus cases within the past 24 hours.

Amid the first lockdown in spring, the German-Czech border was sealed off in mid-March. However, the Czech Republic was one of the first countries in June to reopen its borders to neighbouring countries, including Austria and Hungary.

READ ALSO: Czech Republic reopens border with Germany

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Bar closures and no Christmas markets: How Bavaria is tightening Covid rules

Bavaria will order the closure of all bars and clubs as part of sweeping new restrictions to try and control the Covid spread and ease overrun hospitals. Here's a look at what's planned.

Closed Christmas market stalls in Munich.
Closed Christmas market stalls in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

On Friday Bavarian state leader Markus Söder announced more tough restrictions to deal with spiralling Covid infections and packed intensive care units.

“The corona drama continues,” said Söder after the cabinet meeting, adding that 90 percent of Covid patients in state hospitals are unvaccinated. “Being unvaccinated is a real risk.”

Bavaria has a vaccination rate of 65.9 percent – lower than the nationwide rate of almost 68 percent.

READ ALSO: Bavaria cancels all Christmas markets in Covid surge

Söder said the state’s Covid package was about “blocking, braking and boosting”, adding that vaccination centres will be ramped up. 

“We must act,” he said. “Bavaria is exhausting almost all legal means until December 15th.”

Earlier this week, Bavaria introduced a state-wide 2G rule, meaning only vaccinated people (geimpft) and people who’ve recovered from Covid (genesen) can enter many public spaces. People who are eligible to get vaccinated but choose not to get it are excluded. 

Here’s an overview of the planned restrictions set to come in on Wednesday, as reported by local broadcaster BR24. 

Bars, clubs and restaurant curfew

From Wednesday, and for three weeks, all nightlife like clubs, discos, bars, pubs and brothels in Bavaria are set to close their doors. Restaurants will have to shut at 10pm. So planned Christmas nights out will likely need to be cancelled or postponed. 

Christmas markets

There will be no Christmas or Christkindl markets in Bavaria this year. In the past days, several cities had announced that they would not be holding these events this year due to the Covid situation. 

Contact restrictions on the unvaccinated

Söder announced new restrictions on the number of people those who are not inoculated can socialise with. A maximum of five unvaccinated people will be allowed to meet, from two different households. Children under 12 will not be included in the total, as well as vaccinated or people who’ve recovered from Covid.

Cultural and sporting events

All cultural and sporting events can only take place with significantly reduced spectators. At theatres, opera performances, sporting events, in leisure centres and at trade fairs, there will be a 25-percent capacity limit. The 2G plus rule also applies. This means that only vaccinated and recovered people are allowed to enter (not the unvaccinated) – and only with a negative rapid test. Masks are compulsory everywhere.

Universities, driving schools, close-body services: 2G plus

All universities, driving schools, adult education centres and music schools will only be open to those who have been vaccinated and have recovered – making it 2G. This rule also applies to body-related services, like hairdressers and beauty salons. Only medical, therapeutic and nursing services are exempt from the 2G rule. So unvaccinated people can still go to the doctor or receive a medical procedure. 

KEY POINTS: Germany finalises new Covid restrictions for winter


Shops remain exempt from 2G rules, meaning unvaccinated people can visit them. However, there is to be limits on capacity. This means that fewer customers are allowed into a shop at the same time.

Special rules for hotspots

Currently, the incidence in eight Bavarian districts is above 1,000 infections per 100,000 people in seven days. Here and in all other regions where the incidence goes above this number, public life is to be shut down as far as possible.

This means that restaurants, hotels and all sports and cultural venues will have to close. Hairdressers and other body-related service providers will also not be allowed to open for three weeks, and events will also have to be cancelled. Universities will only be allowed to offer digital teaching. Shops will remain open, but there must be 20 square metres of space per customer. This means that only half as many customers as in other regions are allowed in a shop.

If the incidence falls below 1,000 for at least five days, the rules are lifted.

Schools and daycare

Throughout Bavaria, schools and daycare centres are to remain open. However, there will be regular Covid testing. Children and young people have to continue to wear a face mask during lessons, including school sports, unless they are exercising outside. 

Bavaria is expected to approve the measures on Tuesday and they will be in force until at least December 15th. We’ll keep you updated if there are any changes.