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EU COMMISSION

EU tells Germany to lift Covid-19 border restrictions

The EU Commission has told Germany to lift its tight border restrictions for Tyrol, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, stressing that they are too "restrictive".

EU tells Germany to lift Covid-19 border restrictions
Police at the Czech-German border on Sunday. Photo: DPA

Several regulations are disproportionate or unjustified, the EU Commission wrote in a letter of complaint to Germany’s EU Ambassador Michael Clauss in Brussels. 

“We believe that Germany’s understandable objective – to protect public health in a pandemic – could be achieved by less restrictive measures.” 

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Germany’s new border closures

Currently, only Germans and foreigners with residency permits in Germany are allowed to enter from the Czech Republic, Slovakia and large parts of Austria’s Tyrol regions. There are exceptions for truck drivers and commuters.

The EU Commission now expects a response within 10 working days. Theoretically, it could initiate legal proceedings against Germany, but this is considered unlikely due to the ongoing pandemic. 

Similar letters have been sent to Belgium, Hungary, Denmark, Sweden and Finland, as Brussels also disagrees with these border measures.

In the four-page letter, the Commission requested, among other things, information on the basis in which the Czech Republic and Slovakia were declared mutation areas. The Commission is also dissatisfied with the exceptions to the entry ban. 

For example, it said, there is no exception for families living across borders. In addition, it appears that members of the EU Parliament or members of the government are not allowed to cross Germany to attend EU meetings. 

The Commission also criticised the requirements for truck drivers. For example, they would have to submit a coronavirus test that is no more than 48 hours old, even if they had only passed through the variant areas. 

The recommendations of the EU states, on the other hand, stipulate that transport workers do not usually have to take a test – and if they do, it should be a rapid test.

‘Problematic’

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Germany’s former Defence Minister, admonished the German government for its own proportionality in tightening coronavirus border controls. 

“Sweeping border closures are problematic,” the CDU politician said.

In the worst case, she said, this would shut down the free movement of goods and services from a neighbouring country. 

The intra-European dispute over border closures to contain the pandemic is also the subject of an EU online summit this Thursday.

Since February 14th, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Tyrol have been considered areas with particularly dangerous virus mutations in Germany. 

Entry into Germany is therefore prohibited, with a few exceptions. German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer feels that the border controls, initially put in place for ten days, should be extended. 

READ ALSO: Germany not ruling out French border checks over coronavirus

Member comments

  1. There is a mistake in your article – there is no exception for commuters! (unless they work in healthcare)
    This is partially a reason for this letter from the EUC – people can be legally working across the border but unable to get to their workplace because of the current border closures (which are harsher than they were in the previous lockdowns).

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CULTURE

‘People liked the silence’: How Berlin’s club scene is struggling after lockdowns

Berlin's clubs are suffering from staff shortages, a lack of guests... and neighbours who've grown used to the silence, representatives for the scene say.

'People liked the silence': How Berlin's club scene is struggling after lockdowns

Some operators from Berlin’s club scene are bracing themselves for a difficult autumn. For months now, people have been allowed to dance again and life has returned to normal in the dark corners of Berlin’s famous nightlife scene.

But the clubs have far from recovered from the pandemic. They face staff shortages, rising prices and the prospect of a return to Covid restrictions in the autumn.

“We go into the autumn with huge fear, because the omens are totally unfavorable,” said association head Pamela Schobeß.

Spring and summer went anything but smoothly, she said. “There has been an oversupply of events. People aren’t going out as much, and some are still afraid to move around indoors.”

Money is also an issue. “A lot of people are afraid of rising energy prices.”

The industry lost workers during the pandemic and it’s hard to convince them to come back with the outlook for the autumn looking so gloomy, Schobeß says.

Her colleague Robin Schellenberg tells a similar story. People have switched to various other jobs and would even rather work on a supermarket checkout, which may have been considered less sexy in the past. Now, he says, some have learned to love not having to work nights.

READ ALSO: 

Schellenberg runs the Klunkerkranich, a small club on a parking garage deck in Neukölln. Because a number of things have become more expensive, they have also had to increase their admission prices.

His impression is that people are going out less often and are deciding more spontaneously. In addition, people in the neighborhood are now more sensitive to noise. “Many people found the silence very enticing,” he said.

Some in the industry wonder what will happen next. Will club admission have to become much more expensive? Will that exclude people who can no longer afford it? And what happens if Covid infection numbers rise sharply?

If masks become mandatory indoors in October, Schobeß believes that would be bad for the clubs. “Even if we don’t get shut down by the state, we’ll actually have to close down independently ourselves,” she reckons.

Masks take all the joy out of the experience, she says. People have drinks in their hands and are “jumping around and dancing” and then security guards have to tell them “please put your mask on.”

The federal government is considering whether states should be able to make masks mandatory indoors starting in October. Exceptions should be possible, such as at cultural and sporting events, for people who have been tested, recently vaccinated and recently recovered.

In the event that Covid numbers soar, the states could then be allowed to tighten the rules and eliminate all exemptions.

READ ALSO: German court declares techno to be music

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