EU tells six countries to lift Covid border restrictions

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Brussels has put six EU member states on notice that their tight Covid border restrictions, including exit and entry bans, should be lifted over fears of a wider breakdown in the bloc’s free movement of people and goods.

Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary and Sweden have been given 10 days to respond to the European commission’s concerns that they have breached commonly agreed coronavirus guidelines.

Restrictions imposed by Germany at its border with the Austrian Tirol region have been a particular cause of tension in recent weeks, with the German ambassador in Vienna summoned to justify the “unnecessary measures that do more harm than good”.

There are concerns in Germany, however, that the country could be heading into a third wave of infection, with the number of cases per 100,000 residents in the last seven days at 60.5 – up from 55-57 the previous week.

The commission published its guidelines in January recommending EU member states keep open their borders and only “strongly discourage” non-essential travel, with the option of imposing testing and quarantine requirements on travellers from areas with high levels of infection.

The commission’s president, Ursula von der Leyen, a former German minister, has said she is determined to avoid a repeat of the early months of the pandemic when a series of unilateral decisions caused chaos at the borders and threatened supply chains…

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