June 3, 2020 / 2:09 PM / a month ago

Austria lifting coronavirus border checks with all neighbours bar Italy

VIENNA (Reuters) - Austria is lifting coronavirus-related border restrictions including quarantines for all neighbouring countries except Italy as of Thursday, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said on Wednesday.

Austria borders eight countries and had agreed with Switzerland, Germany and Liechtenstein that they would reopen their shared borders from June 15. It is now accelerating that move on its side and lifting checks for other neighbours.

“We will lift all the coronavirus-related border and health checks in relation to seven bordering countries - Germany, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Hungary. We are thereby returning to the pre-corona situation regarding these countries,” he told a news conference.

His announcement came shortly after Germany said it would lift a travel ban for European Union member states from June 15 as long as there are no entry bans or large-scale lockdowns in those countries, suggesting a move towards greater freedom of movement in time for the summer holidays.

“For Italy, unfortunately the pandemic figures do not yet allow such a step. I emphasize, not yet,” Schallenberg said, adding the aim was to lift checks at the Italian border as soon as possible.

The mainly German-speaking region of Alto Adige in northern Italy has suggested a regional approach, allowing people to travel to Austria from certain parts of Italy, he said, adding the Austrian government would consider that proposal.

Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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