From Friday onwards, only random checks should be carried out at the borders. Austria is striving for similar agreements with the other neighboring countries.
The corona-bound borders between Germany and Austria will be fully opened on June 15th. As of Friday, there will only be random checks at the borders, the Chancellery confirmed the two-stage opening process outlined on Tuesday by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) had called Merkel on Tuesday, interior minister Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) with his German counterpart Horst Seehofer. The German government wanted to discuss the next steps at its meeting on Wednesday. Already on Tuesday evening, Kurz had said on Swiss television’s “10vor10” that he was a Border opening expect in June. On Wednesday evening the Chancellor was expected in the Kleinwalsertal, which, as a customs exclusion area that can only be reached via German territory, is particularly affected by the Corona border controls.
The tourism industry lives from the Germans
As the Federal Chancellery announced in Vienna, Austria is also striving to liberalize the border regime with the other neighboring countries. Briefly Nehammer, Minister of Europe Karoline Edtstadler and Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg (all ÖVP) asked to set up a similar step-by-step process with Switzerland, Liechtenstein and neighboring countries in Eastern Europe “if the infections remain under control there”. Minister of Tourism Elisabeth Köstinger (ÖVP) will take care of the tourism-related aspects, it said.
Köstinger was the first member of the government before Easter Border opening brought into play on Germany on the basis of a bilateral agreement before the summer. It initially encountered a subdued response from both the Ministry of Health and the German government. The Austrian tourism industry is heavily dependent on German summer vacationers. Above all, however, the industry pushed for clarity regarding the summer season and referred to bookings from regular German guests, which made it difficult for new Austrian guests to make promises.
EU Commission recommends coordinated behavior
The procedure corresponds to the approach “As much freedom as possible, as much restriction as necessary” and also follow the recommendations of the EU Commission after a gradual process based on clearly defined criteria, the Federal Chancellery said.
The EU Commission wanted its guidelines for a gradual Border opening decide at their weekly meeting on Wednesday. According to media reports, the Brussels authority recommends a careful and coordinated procedure of the member states. Controls should therefore first be relaxed where the number of infections on both sides of the border improved comparably.
Commuters are already on the move again
Germany had decided in the Corona crisis border controls with Denmark, France, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Austria, which are currently limited to May 15. Only those who have a valid reason can currently enter Germany. In addition, there is a worldwide travel warning for tourist trips abroad in Germany until mid-June. This warning is said to be limited to certain countries in the future.
Already this Wednesday several small border crossings between Bavaria and Austria opened for commuters and residents. Upper Austria is about the Breitenberg-Hinteranger / Vorderanger and Voglau border crossings, which will now be open daily from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and Bad Füssing-Obernberg (6:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.).
More border crossings will open soon
As the APA announced on request, the Großgmain-Bayerisch Gmain border crossing in Salzburg will also be opened, but only for commuters living or working in these two municipalities or in Bad Reichenhall. According to German information, the border crossings Reit im Winkl-Kössen and Oberjoch-Schattwald should be opened for Tyrol. Furthermore, a number of other border crossings will now be available for farmers and foresters.
Austria closed its borders to practically all neighboring countries within a few days in mid-March in order to inhibit the spread of the corona virus. Beginning with Italy, foreign citizens could only enter with a negative coronavirus certificate, while people with permanent residence in Austria had to commit to a two-week home quarantine. In the meantime, the regulations have been relaxed somewhat, for example for family visits, but also for commuters. For foreign workers such as nurses, separate transports including tests were organized.