Germany’s borders with France, Austria and Switzerland were shut on Monday, except for commercial traffic in a bid to stem the flow of the Covid-19 virus.
Germany had tried to resist closing its borders, to try to keep the Schengen agreement working, but traffic crossing the borders with the three neighbours and also Luxembourg will now be restricted to only goods and people commuting for work.
Only the borders with the Netherlands and Belgium are as yet unaffected.
Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a raft of other measures to limit social contact, including the closure of most non-grocery, cultural and entertainment venues. She also said people should cancel all domestic and foreign holiday travel.
Schools in Germany were closed on Monday and large gatherings nationwide had already been banned.
Spain will also close its borders later while France is considering more stringent lockdowns.
Meanwhile, the European Commission has proposed a temporary ban on non-essential travel to the European Union.
These measures would initially last for 30 days, and long-term residents in the EU, family members of EU nationals and diplomats would be exempt as well as cross-border and healthcare workers and people transporting goods.
It must be approved by the 26 states that make up the borderless Schengen area. Non-Schengen members, including the UK, would be invited to take part.