PARIS (Reuters) – France and Germany have agreed that people crossing the border between the French region of Moselle and Germany will have to have proof of a negative COVID-19 antigen test in the previous 48 hours, French Europe Minister Clement Beaune said on Sunday.
The French government was eager to keep travel restrictions limited at the border, which 16,000 French workers from Moselle cross each day.
“We have negotiated with the Germans so that crossing the border remains allowed, so that these tests are faster and easier antigenic tests,” Beaune said on BFM TV.
Germany’s Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases on Sunday classified the Moselle district as an area of concern due to the spread of a coronavirus variant first detected in South Africa. The decision prompted Berlin to announce that Germany would impose restrictions on travel from the Moselle region from Tuesday.
Public transport between Moselle and the German states of Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland will be suspended, and commuters arriving from Moselle by car will need to produce a negative COVID-19 test. Police will not set up stationary border controls, but will make random checks, German authorities said.
Germany already has border controls in place with the Czech Republic and Austria and had been trying to avoid restrictions on its border with France.
France has resisted imposing a new national lockdown to control more contagious variants, but has begun to toughen restrictions locally in places such as Dunkirk in the north and Nice in the south.
French President Emmanuel Macron has consistently advocated keeping borders open between EU countries during the pandemic, and clashed with Germany last year after Berlin precipitously closed the border during the first wave.
(Reporting by Tangi Salaun, Leigh Thomas and Elizabeth Pineau in Paris and Arno Schuetze in Frankfurt; Editing by Susan Fenton and Jane Merriman)