“We believe it would be sensible to declare both (Austria and Czech Republic) as mutation areas. This will likely happen,” said Bavarian state premier Markus Soeder.
German leaders warned on Thursday that they could not rule out shutting Germany’s borders with its neighbours because of troublingly high coronavirus infections fuelled by more contagious variants in countries like Austria and the Czech Republic.
He had warned late Wednesday that if the Czech Republic was unable to take appropriate measures to curb contagion, then a “border closure must also be an issue”.
Germany in late January banned most travellers from countries classed as so-called mutation areas or places hardest hit by new, more contagious coronavirus variants.
Only a handful of exceptions are allowed to enter Germany from these countries, including returning Germans and essential workers.
With neighbouring EU countries continuing to report high infection numbers in part fuelled by variants, German leaders fear that keeping the borders open could compromise the country’s efforts to curb contagion.
Baden-Wuerttemberg state premier Winfried Kretschmann said in a regional parliament session that if virus variants were to keep propagating in neighbouring countries, then “of course that can in the extreme case also lead to border closures”.
Austria has already ordered restrictions to stop people leaving the mountainous Tyrol region, which Chancellor Sebastian Kurz says has been hit by the biggest outbreak in Europe of the South African variant.