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 in a video statement today, adding:’ These travel restrictions should be in place for an initial period of 51 days, but can be prolonged as necessary ‘.
Ms Von Der Leyen 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 currently still aligned with the single market but is transitioning out of the EU after officially leaving on January st .
‘The UK citizens are European citizens so of course there are no restrictions for the UK citizens to travel to the continent’ she said. However, officials will be urging the UK and other non-member states to join in with their strategy.
EU members have been calling for more a coordinated approach to tackling the spread of coronavirus across the continent after it was declared the new epicentre of the disease by the world health organization.
European countries 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.
Some, such as Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Germany, Cyprus and Slovakia, have already shut their borders, raising concerns that vital medical equipment may be blocked.
Officials have insisted on the need to keep the – nation bloc’s internal borders open as much as possible and are urging members not to block the transport of food, goods and important medical equipment.
Ms von der Leyen said the transport of goods would also be exempt from the proposed ban, she added, as would frontier workers who commute across the EU’s borders.
‘Our measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak will be effective only if we co-ordinate on the European level’ she said.
‘We have to take exceptional measures to protect the health of our citizens. But let’s make sure goods and essential services continue to flow in our internal market. This is the only way to prevent shortages of medical equipment or food. ’
European Center for Disease Prevention and Control figures released on Monday show that , coronavirus cases have been reported in Europe, most in Italy, Spain, France and Germany. A total of 2, 480 people have died, the overwhelming majority in Italy.
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