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Austria tightens border controls to slow pandemic

by Reuters
Sunday, 7 February 2021 14:42 GMT

ZURICH, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Austria said on Sunday it was tightening border controls to all neighbouring countries, saying non-essential travel should be prevented during the pandemic.

The move to tighten border controls comes as the country is gearing up to cautiously loosen some restrictions this coming week, including letting non-essential shops and schools reopen.

"The border controls are meant to break the chain of infection which through new virus mutations has grown more dangerous," Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said in a statement. "During the pandemic, travel should be kept to an absolute minimum."

The interior ministry said that it had been in contact with German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer over the new border measures and that talks with ministers in other countries were to follow. Austria shares borders with Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Italy, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia.

Austria reported 1,317 new infections on Sunday, bringing the total to 420,644 since the outset of the pandemic. Twenty-two people died, raising the country's total COVID-19 fatalities to 7,906, according to official figures. (Reporting by John Miller; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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