Long queues of cars formed at the Czech-German frontier this week and cross-border workers voiced frustration as tighter restrictions for travel into Germany came into force.
At the Folmava-Furth im Wald border post — where the Iron Curtain once separated East and West — tempers flared as people waited around two hours to cross what is now an internal EU border.
“It’s cold and it’s snowing and there aren’t even any toilets. It’s difficult for everyone, including my employer, because we do not know how long this is going to last,” Yveta Haladova, a Czech nurse working in Germany, said.
The car park at the border was full and around 150 cars could be seen in the queue to cross. A centre for carrying out antigen tests had been hastily set up in a customs building.
“I’ve just had my test and I’m waiting for the result, which should arrive by SMS or email,” said Lukas Kottnauer, an auto industry worker. “It’s very annoying, especially since we are going to have to test every 48 hours.”
As the Czech Republic is now classed as high risk by Germany because of an elevated coronavirus infection rate, anyone arriving from there must show a negative coronavirus test result.
In the case of people crossing the border into the German state of Bavaria like those at the Folmava border post, the test must have been taken within the past 48 hours — meaning that commuters will need to take a test every other day.
Bavaria plans to open more rapid test centres at various border crossing points, according to local media.
In the neighboring German state of Saxony, the rule has been relaxed to allow workers to undergo tests twice a week on the German side, before starting work
“We were here at 4 o’clock, now it’s half past six and we are still waiting,” explains a worker. “I don’t know when it’s my turn. My wife was in the queue for four hours yesterday. She won’t have Covid,” but she’ll get the flu. We’ve been sitting in the car for three hours, at least we were warm.”
“If this continues, I’ll stop working in Germany,” says another Czech commuter. “It’s not worth it anymore. I think they have to do something because we can’t continue like this, with three or four tests a week and waiting for two or three hours each time. Nothing works.”