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Closed borders and flight bans: Countries are taking extraordinary measures to tackle Covid-19

Countries are closing borders, banning foreigners and taking unprecedented steps to try to deal with Covid-19.

Scenes at the German-Polish border after controls were introduced to try to cope with Covid-19.
Scenes at the German-Polish border after controls were introduced to try to cope with Covid-19.
Image: Patrick Pleul/DPA/PA Images

HERE IN IRELAND, borders have not closed. While citizens have been advised against all travel – with the exception of to Northern Ireland – the government has not yet introduced the drastic measures seen in other countries. 

Last night, the Department of Foreign Affairs called on all Irish tourists in Spain to travel home by Saturday, while yesterday it also advised Irish citizens, unless legally resident in Germany, to avoid travel there. 

The situation is very different throughout the world. Countries are closing borders, banning foreigners and taking unprecedented steps to try to stem the spread of the coronavirus Covid-19. 

As things stand, nearly 200,000 cases of Covid-19 have been reported around the world. 

Earlier this week, EU leaders took the dramatic step of closing the EU’s borders to non-essential travel for at least 30 days to non-EU citizens – one of the rare coordinated responses to the crisis so far, although Ireland is yet to decide on whether to take part in the ban.

More typically, EU countries have been taking individual actions to tackle the virus as the continent becomes the “epicentre” of the outbreak, severely limiting movement in the Schengen area. 

In Germany, one of the largest European economies, temporary border controls have been introduced with Austria, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg and Denmark

France has taken similar measures and closed all land borders on Tuesday. 

Poland, the Czech Republic, Denmark and several other countries had already decided to close borders or introduce restrictions to tackle the crisis. 

Poland, for instance, has suspended all domestic and international flights, while Czech leaders have also sealed off an area in the eastern part of the country. 

Non-Polish nationals are only be able to enter the country if they are a spouse or child of a Polish national, hold a Pole’s Card, or otherwise have the right to stay or work in the country.

The Hungarian government has also announced a state of emergency and on Monday said that it would be closing its borders to all foreigners, with only Hungarian citizens permitted to enter.

International

Australia and New Zealand have also sealed their borders, banning entry for non-residents. Australia’s biggest airline Qantas said that it would halt all international flights for at least two months, suspending two-thirds of staff in response to the global pandemic.

The Australia ban, which will restrict entry to anyone who is not a citizen or permanent resident, will be in place from Friday. 

The 8,891km-long US-Canada border has also been closed, days after President Donald Trump announced a ban on visitors coming from Europe – a measure subsequently extended to Ireland and the UK. 

Non-essential travel will no longer be allowed between the two countries, although trade will continue. 

In Ottawa, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said after speaking with Trump by telephone: “Travellers will no longer be permitted to cross the border for recreation and tourism.”

news-coronavirus The border in Canada yesterday. Source: USA TODAY Network/SIPA USA/PA Images

“In both our countries, we’re encouraging people to stay home,” he told a news conference. “I want to be clear, though, that essential travel will continue.”

In Peru, the country’s President Martin Vizcarra announced a restriction on overnight movement – an increasingly common measure as countries go into lockdown. 

So far, there have been a limited number of cases confirmed in African countries – but experts fear that cases could spiral in states with poor healthcare systems.

South Africa, for instance, has announced a travel ban on foreign nationals from high-risk countries, while any foreign national who has visited high-risk countries in the last 20 days will be denied a visa.

Following the example of other states, the country has announced that anyone returning from high-risk countries will be subjected to testing and self-isolation. 

India, which has around 150 confirmed cases, said it will bar all passengers — including Indian citizens — from entering the country on flights from the European Union, Turkey and the UK. 

It’s the latest announcement from the country, which also announced that it has shut down the Taj Mahal.

Lockdown

Closer to home, rumours have been circulating that London is the latest city to go into lockdown – but with no official statement as of yet, the only word on that so far is from several newspapers

The worst-hit part of the UK, if London does go into some sort of lockdown it’ll follow the example of several European cities and countries. 

In Lithuania, all citizens are banned from leaving the country – with some exceptions – while foreigners are prohibited from entering. 

In France and Italy, people have been told to stay at home, imposing major curtailments of internal movement. 

Not all countries have taken such measures, with many countries likely watching whether they have a positive impact against the virus. 

With reporting from Press Association and AFP

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