Germany Raises Virus Warning for France After Latest Surge
(Bloomberg) -- Germany raised its Covid-19 warning for France as the European Union’s two biggest countries confront a resurgent pandemic that’s compounding political damage from chaotic vaccination rollouts.
Travelers from France will now have to be able to present a negative Covid test after Germany’s Robert Koch Institute health agency declared France a high-incidence virus area on Friday.
Germany won’t close the border and there will be exemptions for people living close to it on the French side, Clement Beaune, France’s junior minister for European affairs, said in a statement. The goal is to minimize disruptions to the local economy and daily life, he said.
French-German consultations are continuing “in the hope that these restrictions will apply for the shortest possible time,” Beaune said.
Meanwhile, France expanded a lockdown to three additional regions to stem the spread of the virus.
Those moves are just the latest in what’s been another dramatic week for the EU, involving infighting between governments over vaccines, tensions with the U.K. over export controls, and an investigation into a stash of AstraZeneca Plc vaccines in Italy.
Voters trying to keep up have been whipsawed by developments, most notably when German Chancellor Angela Merkel had to call off a planned five-day lockdown over Easter after an intense backlash. That dramatic move encapsulated the view that Europe’s leaders are failing to get to grip with a situation that is costing lives daily.
Threat to Hospitals
German Health Minister Jens Spahn said Friday that cases are rising too rapidly and the virus variants are a dangerous driver of the trend. The number of people who have tested positive out of 100,000 over the past seven days has nearly doubled in the past month to 119.1, according to RKI.
“If this continues unchecked, we will face the danger that our health care system will reach capacity during the month of April,” Spahn said.
Germany will also introduce mandatory testing for everyone entering the country via air. From Monday, airlines have to make sure everyone is tested before boarding the plane.
“This is a precautionary measure to prevent the virus to spread because of holiday trips,” Spahn said.
France’s situation looks even worse. With almost 4,700 people in intensive care as of Thursday, the number is approaching last fall’s peak of 4,900, according the French health authorities. The Covid incidence rate is at 325, almost triple Germany’s.
French President Emmanuel Macron has ignored calls to put the country under a third nationwide lockdown. He defended his decision, saying numbers earlier in the year didn’t justify such action.
“I have no mea culpa to make, no remorse, no failure to declare,” Macron told reporters on Thursday.
Amid the Covid surge, European leaders are pushing to speed up their rollout of vaccinations and are counting on a rapid pickup of deliveries in the second quarter.
In a hopeful sign, the European Medicines Agency approved vaccination plants in the Netherlands and Germany on Friday
One of the two is the Dutch Halix plant, which makes the drug substance for the AstraZeneca Plc vaccine and has been at the center of talks between the U.K. and the EU over a claim on the shots.
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