Coronakrise: Laschet pushes discussion about opening borders

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Criticism of Interior Minister Seehofer because of the border closures is growing. NRW head of government Laschet wants to relax quarantine rules for returnees from other European countries. Merkel sought talks with Macron.

The discussion about reopening the inner-European borders for travellers is already underway. Now North Rhine-Westphalia’s Minister President Armin Laschet is going one step further: he is calling for a relaxation of the security measures that apply to returnees.

“If France ends the lockdown on 11 May, we need a relaxation of the quarantine measures for returnees from European countries,” Laschet told the newspaper “Rheinische Post”. The CDU politician said he was in agreement on this with his counterpart Malu Dreyer (SPD) from Rhineland-Palatinate and Tobias Hans (CDU) from Saarland.

At present, anyone entering Germany from abroad must go into quarantine for two weeks. However, this obligation does not apply to people who enter Germany with a special permit – such as commuters. There are stationary border controls at the borders to Denmark, France, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Austria.

France had relaxed its strict exit restrictions on Monday. But freedom of movement remains restricted. Anyone wishing to move more than 100 kilometres from their place of residence needs a good reason.

In view of the loosening in France, Laschet, Hans and Dreyer have been pushing for an opening of the borders for some time. Laschet said that it has been painful for him for weeks that the Europe Bridge between Kehl and Strasbourg is closed. “The fact that you of all people are not allowed to cross the Moselle to Schengen and fly the flags at half-mast there is also painful.”

On Monday, the CDU presidium had also spoken out in favour of a speedy opening of the borders to neighbouring countries – while maintaining security standards. Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) had recently declared that there was agreement within the federal government to continue controls until 15 May for the time being. In the course of the week, a decision on how to proceed will be made.

Sharp criticism of Seehofer from the FDP

One of the sharpest critics of the border closures is the FDP. Interior expert Benjamin Strasser said that Seehofer must “open the borders immediately, otherwise the Chancellor will have to put her foot down”. He added that the “nonsensical” border controls were contributing to “the fact that people’s understanding of measures to contain the coronavirus was increasingly dwindling”.

His party colleague and parliamentary group vice chairman Alexander Graf Lambsdorff spoke out like Laschet against a quarantine for returnees. “Borders and infections have nothing to do with each other,” he told ARD’s “Morgenmagazin”. “Borders should always only be closed when there is an occurrence of infection,” Lambsdorff said. Blanket border closures are the wrong way to go, he said.

Merkel talks to Macron

There are also signs of movement in the dialogue with France: According to a media report, German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and French President Emmanuel Macron spoke on the phone on Monday evening, discussing easing border traffic between Germany and France.

According to the report in the “Capital Briefing” by Media Pioneer editor-in-chief Michael Bröcker, both are striving for a solution that applies equally to the citizens of both countries, at best even beyond. Government spokesman Steffen Seibert confirmed that the Chancellor and the French President had discussed current European tasks on Monday.

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I am The Washington Newsday correspondent. I cover general science and Nasa news. I have been in the Science Desk's Technology Beat since joining Washington Newsday in 2018. You can contact me at [email protected]

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