Germany defends COVID border curbs

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German border police officers check a car at the A17 motorway near the Czech-German border, after controls between Germany and the Czech Republic have been re-established, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Breitenau, Germany, February 15, 2021. REUTERS/Matthias Rietschel

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BERLIN, Feb 23 (Reuters) - A German minister on Tuesday defended the latest border restrictions as necessary to curb the spread of more contagious variants of the coronavirus as the EU faces a fresh wave of disjointed travel curbs.

"These measures obviously put a massive strain on border regions, commuters and the transport of goods and the single market, but the protection of our citizens is paramount," German Europe Minister Michael Roth said ahead of talks with his EU counterparts on Tuesday.

He indicated, however, that Germany was trying to prevent on its border with France restrictions akin to those in place on the Czech and Austrian frontiers.

Germany is in close contact with French authorities to ensure coordination of border restrictions, Roth said, adding that Germany has so far not seen the new variants of the virus spread from France, unlike was the case with the Czech Republic.

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Reporting by Sabine Siebold, Editing by Gabriela Baczynska

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