Cross-border commuters between France and Germany will be required to provide regular proof of a negative PCR test from 1 March, with authorities on both sides hoping to avoid a full border closure to halt the spread of Covid-19.
The French government said on Thursday it would tighten controls at the German border to slow down infections, as the coronavirus continues its rapid spread through the eastern Moselle region.
From Monday 1 March, cross-border workers commuting between Germany and Moselle will have to undergo a weekly Covid-19 PCR test before being allowed across, Health Minister Olivier Véran and European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune said in a joint statement.
The move follows a warning from the German government last week that it was considering new travel restrictions at the French border over the rise in coronavirus variants.
European Union (EU) leaders held a video summit on Thursday to discuss Covid-related issues, including border closures, over which Germany and other members have been reprimanded by the European Commission.
France’s hard-hit Moselle department was striking its own deals with Germany’s neighbouring Saarland and Rhineland-Palatinate regions, Chancellor Angela Merkel said after the summit.
Saarland prime minister Tobias Hans told ARD public television: “We have to have similar measures on the German side.”
No closures ‘for now’
“Border closures are not on the agenda for now,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin, adding that the situation for Germany’s borders with the Czech Republic and Austria’s Tyrol region, which have been closed, was “very different”.
Closing the French-German border in spring 2020 during the first pandemic wave created tensions between the neighbouring countries, even at the level of local populations.
French cross-border workers with Luxembourg will not be targeted by the new PCR test requirement.
Elsewhere, with the exception of cross-border commuters from within the EU, travellers arriving in France must present a negative PCR test.
French ministers said that joint French-German border police patrols “could be reinforced” to ensure compliance.