Germany’s new border restrictions trigger diplomatic tensions, protests

Photo: AP

New pandemic restrictions imposed at Germany's borders with the Czech Republic and Austria on Sunday triggered concerns from German car makers and diplomatic tensions with Vienna, dpa reported.

From Sunday onwards, only German nationals and residents are allowed to enter Germany from the Czech Republic and from Austria's Tyrol province. The policy was imposed to prevent the transmission of more infectious coronavirus variants from these areas.

The Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) warned that restrictions on the German-Czech border may cause delivery problems and lead to the closure of German factories from Monday.

However, German automotive giants Volkswagen and Daimler said they currently do not expect supply disruptions.

German car makers source parts from eastern EU countries and from northern Italy. Tyrol is a major thoroughfare for cargo from Italy to Germany.

Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said he had "urgently warned against excessive steps that do more harm than good" in talks with his German counterpart Heiko Maas on Sunday. The Austrian Foreign Ministry also said it expected Berlin's ambassador in Vienna for a conversation on this issue.

Tyrol's governor Guenther Platter sharply criticized this restrictive policy and warned that it would affect many commuters. "The current situation is absolutely unacceptable," he said in a statement in Innsbruck. "We immediately need a policy that allows all Tyrolean and Bavarian commuters to do their jobs with a negative coronavirus test," he demanded.

The Czech movement Chcipl Pes that has been lobbying for easing Covid-19 restrictions demanded "revenge" against the German border closure. The government in Prague should deny entry to Germans. Czech health workers who are employed in German hospitals should also be prevented from crossing the border, the movement proposed.

"The Germans are defending their own national interests. If our government showed strong leadership, they would do the same," the statement on Facebook said.

More on this subject: Coronavirus

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