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Travel: Germany announces tougher checks at all land borders

Germany will step up random controls along its land borders to check that travellers arriving in the country are carrying a negative Covid-19 test, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said Tuesday.

Travel: Germany announces tougher checks at all land borders
A car is inspected at the Czech-German border on February 20th. Photo: DPA

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said he has asked Germany’s federal police  to “intensify” the checks for the next “eight to 14 days”.

“Regardless where you’re arriving from, from Poland, France, or Denmark, everyone should expect to be checked, especially with regard to producing a negative test,” Seehofer told reporters.

The checks would occur in a 30-kilometre zone on German territory after vehicles have already crossed from neighbouring nations, Seehofer said, meaning nobody will be sent back if they don’t comply.

But police can impose fines on anyone who fails to show a negative test or did not complete an online registration form before entry.

Anyone coming from a “high-risk” area such as France must also quarantine upon arrival.

READ ALSO: Germany requires negative Covid test for travellers from France

The only systematic border checks, where each car is stopped and can be denied entry, are taking place at Germany’s frontier with the hard-hit Czech Republic.

Seehofer announced that the strict checks would be extended for another 14 days given the Czech Republic’s high infection rate and the prevalence of virus variants.

But Germany will no longer systematically stop each vehicle coming from Austria’s Tyrol region, he added, saying the pandemic situation in Tyrol “has significantly improved”.

Also from Tuesday, anyone arriving in Germany by plane must show a negative test before boarding, regardless of whether they are coming from a risk area or not.

The tougher measures come as Germany struggles to slow a rise in coronavirus infections, fuelled by new, more contagious virus strains with experts warning that the vaccination pace remains too slow to break a third wave of the pandemic.

Government officials have repeatedly urged Germans to stay home over the  Easter break and expressed concerns over Germans holidaying in the Spanish island of Mallorca.

READ ALSO: ‘Not an invitation to go there’: Germany urges against Mallorca holiday following lifting of travel warning

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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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