Bavaria will set up coronavirus test sites at its two biggest railway stations as well as key points on motorways, the leader of the southern German state said Monday, as fears grow that summer travel could spark a new wave of infections.
On top of existing test centres at Bavarian airports, tests will now be offered at the Munich and Nuremberg train stations, as well as on three major motorway routes near the border, state premier Markus Soeder told a press conference.“We cannot completely prevent corona, so the goal must be to detect it in time to stop it from spreading,” he said.
Soeder also joined a growing chorus of calls for tests to become compulsory for holidaymakers returning to Germany.
“We are preparing everything so that if the federal government gives the go-ahead, we can implement it immediately,” he said.
Germany’s 16 states agreed Friday to offer free coronavirus tests to all returning travellers but stopped short of making the tests mandatory.
A new round of talks were under way on Monday, with the chancellery welcoming the discussion on imposing such tests for travellers returning to Germany.
“Most people who take up the voluntary offer (for tests) are the ones who take care when they are on holidays, while those who are careless” do not, chancellery chief of staff Helge Braun said in an interview with public radio RBB.
Amid the deliberations over summer travel, some 500 workers were sent into quarantine on a large Bavarian farm at the weekend in order to contain a mass coronavirus outbreak.
At least 174 seasonal workers have tested positive for the virus on the farm in the municipality of Mamming, most of them from Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Ukraine.
Soeder said Monday that Bavaria would test all seasonal farm workers in the state and increase fines for farms that breach regulations to 25,000 euros ($27,350) — five times more than the current penalty.
Germany has fared better than many of its neighbours in suppressing the virus, reporting just over 200,000 cases and 9,118 deaths to date, according to the Robert Koch Institute for disease control.
But the country has also been hit by repeated coronavirus outbreaks at slaughterhouses, keeping authorities on high alert.