Germany will classify France as a high-risk zone for COVID-19, Chancellor Angela Merkel said, in a move that could see Berlin tighten border controls and require mandatory quarantine to enter the country.
The decision will come into force on Friday and be announced by the national health institute, the Robert Koch Institute, according to the newspaper FAZ.
COVID-10 incidence rates, which measure the number of infections in every 100,000 people over the previous seven days, have crossed the threshold of 200 in numerous French departments.
In Ile-de-France, the region which encompasses the capital of Paris, it has passed 600.
“While we see such a high incidence it is simply a necessity… a practically automatic process,” Chancellor Merkel told a press conference in Berlin Thursday as part of an EU summit focused on the fight against COVID-19.
“It is not related here to a political decision but when we see the evolution of the incidence rate—as is the case here—exceed the threshold of 200 for a long time, that requires a classification as a zone of high risk,” she added.
Up until now, only France’s border area of Moselle had been classified by Germany as a high-risk zone.
The classification imposes several travel restrictions, including a requirement to obtain a negative test result before entering German territory, 10 days’ quarantine, as well as the imposition of strict border controls.
Berlin has also placed Austria’s Tyrol state and the Czech Republic in the same category.
But Merkel hinted Thursday that France could enjoy special treatment and avoid strict border controls, despite being classified as a high-risk area.
“There is a whole specific test procedure… that is in discussion with France,” she said.
The French secretary of state for European Affairs, Clement Beaune, “is negotiating the easing of terms… to avoid the border being closed”, AFP learned on Thursday from his entourage in Paris.