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Germany is planning to ease border controls with some European neighbors beginning this weekend as the European Union seeks to open tourism in regions hard-hit by the coronavirus.

All border crossings with France, Switzerland and Austria will be opened Saturday and authorities will carry out checks randomly, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said Wednesday.

During the height of the lockdown, only select border points remained open with restrictions.

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Germany imposed checks on its borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg and Denmark on March 16 and people “without a valid reason to travel” haven’t been allowed to cross. Eastern neighbors Poland and the Czech Republic closed their borders.

Free travel without random checks across those borders is planned for June 15, Seehofer said, but controls will be stepped back up if infections rise strongly in neighboring countries.

People walk to a shopping center as many smaller stores are allowed to open in Essen, Germany, on April 20. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)

People walk to a shopping center as many smaller stores are allowed to open in Essen, Germany, on April 20. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)

Seehofer also recommended dropping a 14-day self-quarantine requirement for travelers arriving from other European countries, while keeping it in place for arrivals from other nations such as the United States and Russia.

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The European Union proposed a gradual lifting of borders for this summer to help the hard-hit regions’ tourism industry.

“Our message is we will have a tourist season this summer, even if it’s with security measures and limitations,” said economic affairs commissioner Paolo Gentiloni, according to the BBC.

Germany’s warning against all nonessential tourist travel abroad is currently set to run until at least June 14. While Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that Germany will be able to lift the warning for travel to European destinations before other places, he didn’t specify when.

“Freedom to travel is part of the foundation of the European project, but in times of corona Europe must ensure more: the freedom to travel safely,” Maas said in a statement Wednesday.

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There are at least 173,546 confirmed coronavirus cases and 7,780 deaths in Germany as of Wednesday. The infection rate dropped below one percent, according to the Germany’s public health agency, indicating the spread of the disease is slowing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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