Germany and several other European countries where the coronavirus spread has slowed were moving ahead Friday with relaxing border restrictions, while flare-ups in Mexico and elsewhere served as a reminder the pandemic is far from over.
Slovenia, which has been gradually easing strict lockdown measures, declared that the spread of the virus is now under control and that European Union residents could now enter from Austria, Italy and Hungary.
Germany, meantime, was preparing to open its border entirely with Luxembourg at midnight, and increase the number of crossings open from France, Switzerland and Austria. Travelers will still need to demonstrate a “valid reason” to enter Germany and there will be spot checks, but the goal is to restore free travel by June 15.
Germany’s states have also agreed to drop a mandatory 14-day quarantine for travellers entering from the European Union and several other European countries, including Britain, said Armin Laschet, the governor of the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
“Germany will only overcome the corona crisis if European freedom of movement for people, goods and services is fully restored,” Laschet said.
Germany has seen more than 170,000 COVID-19 infections and nearly 8,000 deaths, but more than 150,000 people have recovered and the country has been seeing fewer than 1,000 new cases per day.
In northern Europe, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania removed travel restrictions between the Baltic nations, which Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas called “another step toward normal life.”
Austria and Switzerland were also moving ahead with easing some border restrictions, and Austria reopened all cafes and restaurants.
“I have been having breakfast at this cafe for about 100 years,” said Helmut Gollner, a former literature professor who was one of the first guests Friday morning at Vienna’s Cafe Sperl. “My wife always made great breakfast but it’s a different atmosphere here with the newspapers and so on.”
Restaurants were reopening in more German states Friday as well, and the country was to resume professional soccer on Saturday after a two-month hiatus.
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The Bundesliga plans five games with no fans present and other precautions, including the Ruhr derby between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke.