Germany is thinking about putting a complete halt on international flight operations into the country to control the spread of the new Covid-19 strain.
Germany’s interior Minister Horst Seehofer made the announcement on Tuesday January 26, 2021.
“The danger from the numerous virus mutations forces us to consider drastic measures,” Seehofer told the Bild newspaper.
“That includes significantly stricter border checks, especially at the borders of high-risk areas, but also reducing air travel to Germany to almost zero, as Israel is currently doing,” he added.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, addressing a meeting of lawmakers from her conservative CDU/CSU bloc, said citizens had a right to expect that the government would take “certain precautions at the border”, participants told AFP.
“Everyone understands that now is not the time to travel,” she was quoted as saying.
The new strain of the coronavirus found in the UK and South Africa, believed to be more contagious than the original strain, has raised concern at a time when many nations are struggling to contain the pandemic.
The country recently shut down bars, restaurants, culture, and leisure facilities in November. Measures were tightened further in December, with schools and non-essential shops also ordered to close.
The current shutdowns are set to last until mid-February at least.
Currently, travelers arriving in Germany from countries where the new variants have been detected are required to provide a recent negative test upon arrival.
“The people in Germany who accept the tough restrictions expect us to protect them as best we can from an explosion in infection numbers,” Seehofer told Bild.
The country has reported over 2 million COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic and more than 52,000 deaths.