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‘Austria is acting irresponsibly’: Germany considers border closures with neighbour

The German state of Bavaria is considering closing its southern border, citing Austria’s "irresponsible behaviour".

'Austria is acting irresponsibly': Germany considers border closures with neighbour
Photo: Sven Hoppe / POOL / AFP

CSU General Secretary Markus Blume told German media on Tuesday that Bavaria was considering closing its border with Austria due to the latter’s “irresponsible behaviour”. 

Blume cited Austria’s lockdown relaxation on Monday, February 8th as a reason for the drastic measure. 

“What Austria is doing is irresponsible from our point of view,” Blume told the “Frühstart” program on RTL and n-tv.

Blume called for border controls to be intensified, while flagging border closures as a potential solution. 

“We will not allow this wave to spread across the border to us in Germany,” said Blume. 

“That is why it is good and important that the border controls are now intensified again.

“Border closure must also be a possibility (as a) last resort”.

Over the weekend, Austria announced it would intensify border checks and controls on its side. 

Travel between the two countries is already heavily restricted. 

From Wednesday, February 10th, entry rules into Austria will be made stricter. 

Arrivals to Austria must now show a negative PCR or negative antigen test, in addition to registration with an online form

Arrivals are also required to quarantine for ten days, although they can leave after five days with a negative test result. 

Unlike under the previous rules, cross-border commuters will also need to register online once a week and they are required to present a negative PCR or antigen test result once a week.

More information is available at the following link.

UPDATE: Austria to tighten coronavirus quarantine 

Criticism in Germany

The loosening of restrictions in Austria has already been met with criticism from Germany, particularly in regions which border the alpine state.

CSU General Secretary Markus Blume told BILD am Sonntag that Austria and the Czech Republic were “endangering” Germany’s successes by easing its coronavirus restrictions despite infections remaining at around 100 per 100,000 people, and the recently recorded British and South African mutations of the virus. 

Blume called for more controls by the federal police at all of Germany’s external borders in his Bild interview, and said if, for example, the Czech Republic and Tyrol had virus mutations, the borders would have to be sealed off. 

He said: “We don't want a second Ischgl effect for all of Europe!”

READ MORE: How Austria's Ischgl ski resort 'mishandled coronavirus outbreak'

NordBayern newspaper reports Bavaria's state premier Markus Söder told the CDU state party conference in Hildesheim, Lower Saxony on Saturday that Austria relaxing its coronavirus rules could be “dangerous”.

Bavaria's Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann told the Münchner Merkur he supported tighter borders with Austria, and said borders between the Czech Republic and Austria should be “very closely” monitored. 

Bavaria currently has strict corona rules in place, according to which shopping tours and skiing in neighbouring countries are prohibited. 

 

Member comments

  1. Funny that Austria relaxes lockdown rules while ramping up cross border checks; because, of course, any upturn in numbers won’t be their fault, must be those foreigners who annoyingly come there to ski & spend piles of money!

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COVID-19

Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Since the start of Germany’s Oktoberfest, the incidence of Covid infections in Munich has risen sharply. Though a connection with the festival can’t yet be proven, it seems likely.

Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Two weeks after the start of Oktoberfest, the Covid numbers in Munich have more than tripled.

On Sunday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported an incidence of 768.7 for the city of Munich, though updated figures for the end of the festival are not expected until later in the week. Usually, on weekends and public holidays, there is a delay in reports.

In the entire state of Bavaria, the incidence value on Sunday was 692.5.

According to Munich’s public health officer, Beatrix Zurek, bed occupancy in Munich hospitals has also increased. Two weeks ago, 200 beds in Munich were occupied by Covid patients, whereas there are now around 350.

Though a relationship between the sharp rise in infections with Oktoberfest, which ended on Monday, can’t be proven at the moment, it seems very likely, according to experts. A significant increase in Covid incidences has also been shown at other public festivals – about one and a half weeks after the start. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s famed Oktoberfest opens after two-year pandemic hiatus

After a two-year break due to the pandemic, around 5.7 million visitors came to this year’s Wiesn according to the festival management – around 600,000 fewer than at the last Oktoberfest before the pandemic in 2019, when there were 6.3 million.

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) took to Twitter to comment on the rise in incidence in Munich during the Oktoberfest. “This would not have been necessary if self-tests had been taken before admission,” he said.

“Compared to the price of a measure of beer, €2-3 (for tests) wouldn’t have mattered,” he said.

Even before the start of the Wiesn, he had spoken out in favour of people taking voluntary self-tests. Lauterbach stressed that now is the time for special measures against Covid.

“The development shows what will happen if the states wait too long with the mask obligation in indoor areas,” he added.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany’s new Covid-19 rules from October

In neighbouring counties, where many Oktoberfest visitors came from, the number of Covid cases has also risen noticeably.  Beatrix Zurek said that it is unclear, however, how much of a role Oktoberfest played in these figures, as people are currently much more active socially overall, with concerts and other events also taking place throughout the state.

Christoph Spinner, an infections specialist at Munich’s Klinikum, has urged people not to be alarmed by the rising numbers.

“We had expected rising incidences here. We knew that there could be a doubling, tripling, even quadrupling,” he said.

He said that this is no cause for concern, as many people have been vaccinated or have also recovered from previous Covid infections, so any new infections are therefore usually mild.

The virologist advises people over 60 or with pre-existing conditions to get a second booster vaccination, but otherwise said people shouldn’t be alarmed by the rising incidences.

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