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Reluctant to close its borders despite pandemic, Germany to crack down on ‘non-essential’ travel

Facing the alarming spread of the coronavirus, Berlin has decided to tighten border controls, limiting “non-essential” travel with neighboring countries. Germany saw a spike in Covid-19 cases, which jumped by 1,000 in one day.

The move was announced by Interior Minister Horst Seehofer late Sunday. Germany will re-introduce checks on the borders with Austria, France, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Denmark starting Monday morning.

“The spread of the coronavirus is progressing quickly and aggressively… one of the most important measures will be to cut off the chain of infection,” Seehofer stated.

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As of Sunday, Germany has over 5,800 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 13 deaths. The number of those infected surged by over 1,000 on Saturday.

People “without a significant reason to travel,” as well as those suspected of being infected with the disease won’t be able to cross the borders. The flow of cargo and cross-border commuters, however, will not be affected by the restrictions. German citizens and permanent residents will be allowed to return to the country as well.

Seehofer stressed that the travel restrictions are temporary and will be reevaluated “from time to time.”

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Despite the coronavirus threat, Berlin has been reluctant to tighten border controls. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has spoken out against the measure, saying it is “not an appropriate response to the challenge.”

Earlier this week, the coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). The global health watchdog warned that the hotbed of the virus has seemingly shifted to Europe, where the number of new cases registered daily has already surpassed the dynamics shown by the virus in China during the initial outbreak.

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