Source: Politico, 2021-02-19
Germany’s coronavirus border restrictions are putting truckers’ health at risk, Transport Commissioner Adina Vălean said in an interview on 19 February.
Earlier in February, EU countries agreed that while they’re free to impose travel bans to protect public health, freight movements should be protected and that if new measures cause disruption, they should be stopped.
“I think Germany has to ask itself if this is the case,” Vălean said.
From 14 February, Germany requires truckers returning from Austria’s Tyrol region and the Czech Republic — now branded “virus mutation areas” — to pre-register and carry proof a negative coronavirus test.
“Of course, it’s causing disruption,” Vălean said. “It’s putting a burden on transport workers, from the risks they take in testing facilities because they have to leave their truck to the fact that there are supplementary costs, because these tests are not for free.”
The Commissioner said she’s worried that the testing requirements are forcing drivers, who are usually mostly secluded in their cabin, to queue up in large throngs at the borders.
“This means they are interacting with each other and this puts their health at risk,” she said.
It would be possible to “alleviate” the impact by adding exemptions for truckers that are only transiting, or by recognising tests taken within the past 72 hours, rather than the current 48-hour timeframe, she suggested.
Vălean pointed at the very low rate of trucker tests that had come back positive in Ireland and in Italy. “This shows the testing requirements are not a proportionate measure,” she said.
In a letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel on 19 February, road transport industry group IRU asked the German leader to rethink the “short-sighted and pointless border restrictions.”