EU transport chief: German coronavirus controls putting truckers’ health at risk
Germany's coronavirus border restrictions are putting truckers' health at risk, Transport Commissioner Adina Valean said in an interview on Friday. Earlier this month, 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," Valean said.
From Sunday, 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," Valean 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 recognizing tests taken within the past 72 hours, rather than the current 48-hour timeframe, she suggested. Valean 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 today, road transport industry group IRU asked the German leader to rethink the "short-sighted and pointless border restrictions."