Germany to introduce border controls as coronavirus cases jump

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany will temporarily introduce border controls on its frontiers with Austria, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg and Denmark from Monday, the government said on Sunday as the country seeks to curb a rapid spread of coronavirus.

Germany is facing an aggressive progression of the illness, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said.

“I decided today that border controls will be temporarily introduced on the borders with Austria, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg and Denmark,” he told a news conference. “The controls will take effect from tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. (0700 GMT).”

As of Sunday, there were 4,838 cases of coronavirus in Germany, with 12 deaths, the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases said. That was a sharp rise from 3,795 confirmed cases, with eight deaths, a day earlier.

Seehofer said the virus was progressing “rapidly and aggressively” and that “we must assume that the peak of this development has not yet been reached.”

“So the situation is very serious,” he added.

Schools and nurseries across the country are closing this week until after the Easter holidays at the end of April.

Hamburg on Sunday joined Berlin and Cologne in closing all bars, clubs, cinemas, theaters and concert halls.

Baerbel Bas, deputy leader of the Social Democrats’ parliamentary group, said Germany needed to consider tougher measures if the number of new cases continues to accelerate.

“If the number of new infections cannot be slowed down with current measures, a complete lockdown must be considered,” she told Die Welt newspaper.

Earlier, Lufthansa said it had organized special flights for the coming days, to return 3,000-4,000 cruise passengers and holidaymakers to Germany, many of them from the Canary Islands and the Caribbean.

It will operate the charter flights on behalf of shipping and tourism companies.

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