EU chief Ursula Von Der Leyen has proposed a 30 day ban on all non-essential travel to the bloc as part of a joint battle against the coronavirus pandemic. The President of the European Commission proposed shutting borders for a month to stop the spread of the disease but said it could be prolonged if necessary. ‘The less travel, the more we can contain the virus. Therefore … I propose to the heads of state and government to introduce temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU’ she said at a press conference today. She added: ‘These travel restrictions should be in place for an initial period of 30 days but can be prolonged as necessary’.
She said exemptions included long-term EU residents, family members of EU nationals, diplomats, doctors and researchers working on containing the health crisis. The ban does not apply to the UK, which is transitioning out of the EU after officially leaving on January 31st. She told the news conference: ‘The UK citizens are European citizens so of course there are no restrictions for the UK citizens to travel to the continent.’
EU officials have been calling for more a coordinated approach to slowing the spread of coronavirus across the continent and have insisted on the need to keep the 27-nation bloc’s internal borders open as much as possible. Last week the World Health Organisation said Europe was officially the epicentre of the disease, with the number of daily deaths and infections surpassing the rate in China, where Covid-19 first emerged in December. Member states have implemented drastic measures to slow the spread of the disease with Italy, France, Spain, Austria, Republic of Ireland and Denmark all on varying degrees of lockdown