Right on time. German police started at 8 a.m. the check of motorists and pedestrians at the entrance to Kehl, the German border town opposite Strasbourg, on the other bank of the Rhine, in an attempt to stem the spread of the coronavirus, noted an AFP journalist.
Several motorists coming from France were turned back by the German police while Paris and Berlin announced Sunday the reduction to the “strictly necessary” of the border crossings between the two countries.
The traffic, exceptionally fluid for a Monday morning, intensified from the start of controls, traffic jams forming on the Rhine Bridge, symbol of Franco-German reconciliation. Two German police officers dressed in fluorescent chasubles crossed out with the word “Polizei”, wearing blue latex gloves and a small red stop sign ask each motorist the reason for their entry into Germany.
A “coordinated Franco-German response”
Freight transport and border workers pass smoothly. On the other hand, those who invoke other grounds such as their intention to buy cheaper cigarettes or fuel in Germany are turned back. A German police officer takes their identity papers and does not return them until they have turned around, all in front of many journalists.
One of the reasons invoked on Sunday by the German authorities to justify these further tightened controls, in addition to the epidemic, is to avoid that citizens of border countries come to make mass purchases in German stores and empty the shelves, a phenomenon already noted in the past.
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The measure was decided by the federal government of Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leaders of three German border regional states, Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and the Saarland. This “coordinated Franco-German response” is justified by the “health context” linked to the spread of the virus, said a source in the French Ministry of the Interior.
“These French and German checks do not constitute a closure of our common border. They aim to limit unnecessary trade between our two countries in order to limit the spread of the virus, “said Place Beauvau in a press release.