Switzerland: Baden-Württemberg closes border due to coronavirus risks

The German state of Baden-Württemberg has closed the border to Switzerland in both directions to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Switzerland: Baden-Württemberg closes border due to coronavirus risks
A policeman at the border between Switzerland and Germany. Photo: SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP

The primary target of the ban is to prevent seasonal shopping tourism, along with people hoping to travel to Switzerland to go skiing, DPA reported on Tuesday. 

The border between Germany and France has also been closed.

While DPA reported that the closure is effective immediately as of December 22nd, an updated guidance produced by the state government said it would come into effect on December 23rd.

READ MORE: Switzerland imposes new restrictions on Christmas shoppers

In a statement released on Tuesday, the state government said that the reason for entry or exit was the relevant factor in determining whether or not people needed to quarantine.

“Quarantine-free entry for a stay of up to 24 hours in Baden-Württemberg or after a stay of up to 24 hours in a border region is only permitted if the entry or return journey is not primarily for tourist reasons or for the purpose of shopping.”

“In view of the extremely tense pandemic situation, border crossings must be temporarily reduced to an absolutely necessary level,” said Baden-Württemberg Minister of Health Manne Lucha on Tuesday in Stuttgart.

“We appeal to people not to exhaust the existing regulations and to refrain from all unnecessary contacts.”

“The risks that additional sources of infection arise when traveling to and from Baden-Württemberg is to be minimised (by the closure)”.

The border closure is in both directions. People from Baden-Württemberg are not allowed to go shopping or skiing in Switzerland, while Swiss are no longer allowed to go shopping in the state. 

There are a number of exceptions woven into the framework. 

The rules still enable quarantine-free entries for professional, official, business, school, medical or family-related reasons.

By making the decision, Baden-Württemberg is taking the same steps Bavaria adopted in November. 

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Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

German health ministers say that tougher Covid restrictions should come back into force if a serious wave emerges in autumn.

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

Following a video meeting on Monday, the health ministers of Germany’s 16 states said tougher restrictions should be imposed again if they are needed. 

“The corona pandemic is not over yet – we must not be deceived by the current declining incidences,” said Saxony-Anhalt’s health minister Petra Grimm-Benne, of the Social Democrats, who currently chairs the Conference of Health Ministers (GMK).

According to the GMK, new virus variants are expected to appear in autumn and winter. Over the weekend, federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) also warned that the more dangerous Delta variant could return to Germany. “That is why the federal Ministry of Health should draw up a master plan to combat the corona pandemic as soon as possible and coordinate it with the states,” Grimm-Benne said.

Preparations should also include an amendment of the Infection Protection Act, ministers urged. They want to see the states given powers to react to the infection situation in autumn and winter. They called on the government to initiate the legislative process in a timely manner, and get the states actively involved.

The current Infection Protection Act expires on September 23rd this year. Germany has loosened much of its Covid restrictions in the last months, however, face masks are still compulsory on public transport as well as on planes. 

READ ALSO: Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

The health ministers said that from autumn onwards, it should be possible for states to make masks compulsory indoors if the regional infection situation calls for it. Previously, wearing a Covid mask was obligatory in Germany when shopping and in restaurants and bars when not sitting at a table. 

Furthermore, the so-called 3G rule for accessing some venues and facilities – where people have to present proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test – should be implemented again if needed, as well as other infection protection rules, the ministers said. 

Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek, of the CSU, welcomed the ministers’ unanimous call for a revision of the Infection Protection Act. “The states must be able to take all necessary infection protection measures quickly, effectively, and with legal certainty,” he said.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s health minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) warned that no one should “lull themselves into a false sense of security”.

“We must now prepare for the colder season and use the time to be able to answer important questions about the immunity of the population or the mechanisms of infection chains,” he said.

On Tuesday, Germany reported 86,253 Covid infections within the latest 24 hour period, as well as 215 Covid-related deaths. The 7-day incidence stood at 437.6 infections per 100,000 people. However, experts believe there could be twice as many infections because lots of cases go unreported. 

READ ALSO: Five things to know about the Covid pandemic in Germany right now