BERLIN, June 10 (Reuters) – Germany will from next week relax entry restrictions for seasonal workers introduced to slow the spread of the coronavirus, a government source said on Wednesday.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet approved proposals from Agriculture Minister Julia Kloeckner for seasonal workers from European Union states and Schengen countries to be able to enter Germany again as of June 16 without the restrictions.
Germany had previously stipulated that a maximum of 80,000 seasonal workers could enter the country due to the pandemic, although just under half that quota was used.
As the number of new coronavirus cases falls and Germany continues to ease its lockdown, farmers are keen to ensure they are ready for this year’s harvest.
Last year, almost 300,000 seasonal workers were employed in Germany’s agriculture sector, mainly from Romania and Poland.
However, the government agreed that employers would be required to implement hygiene standards. Fixed teams would be set up from the start to reduce the risk of spreading the virus and if one worker becomes ill, the whole team must be isolated.
The new rules will apply until Dec. 31. Reuters had seen a draft of the plans on Tuesday. (Reporting by Holger Hansen; Writing by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Maria Sheahan)