Germany considering halting air travel to curb spread of coronavirus variants
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Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said on Tuesday that the country was considering a complete ban on flights into the country
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“The danger from the numerous virus mutations forces us to consider drastic measures,” Seehofer told German newspaper the Bild. “That includes significantly stricter border checks, especially at the borders of high-risk areas, but also reducing air travel to Germany to almost zero, as Israel is currently doing.”
Over the weekend, German Chancellor Angela Merkel reportedly said that she was in favor of tightening travel restrictions. Bild reported that Merkle instructed Seehofer to look into ways the country could protect itself against importing new strains.
On Monday, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the country would close its main airport Tel Aviv Ben Gurion in order to stop the new strains of the virus from entering its borders. The airport is expected to remain shut until Jan. 31.
In Israel’s case, there are exceptions to the ban, such as cargo flights, firefighting flights and flights for emergency medical evacuation.
In the U.S., President Joe Biden has reinstated the travel ban first implemented — and later ended — by former president Trump. As of Monday, Biden said that all non-citizens coming from the EU, U.K., Brazil, China, Iran and South Africa would not be allowed to enter the United States.
The emergence of new strains of the novel coronavirus that are believed to be more infectious and potentially more deadly have been cause for concern around the world. Strains that first surfaced in the U.K., South Africa and Brazil, for example, have fuelled these concerns, coupled with a slower-than-anticipated rollout of vaccination programs across much of Europe.
Germany has recorded more than two million cases of COVID-19 and more than 52,000 deaths.
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