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European Commission proposes all non-essential travel to the EU to be banned for 30 days

Ursula von der Leyen made the announcement in a bid to reduce the pressure on the healthcare systems in EU countries.

Image: Shutterstock/jorisvo

THE PRESIDENT OF the European Commission has today announced proposals to introduce a temporary 30-day restriction on non-essential travel to the EU. 

Ursula von der Leyen made the announcement in a bid to reduce the pressure on the healthcare systems of EU countries and the measures would come into effect once EU member states agree. 

The proposal will ask all Schengen area countries, as well as Schengen Associated states – Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania – to implement the ban. 

Ireland and the United Kingdom, which is still being treated as an EU member state until the end of the Brexit transition period in December, are not counted in the 26 Schengen area countries but are being requested to accept and implement the restrictions. 

Travel between the UK and Ireland, however, would remain unaffected by the ban due to the common travel area between the two countries. 

Speaking today, Von der Leyen said: “Our healthcare system is under huge pressure, therefore member states have taken strong measures to slow down the spread of the virus. These measures are effective only when they are coordinated and this is why we present today guidelines on border measures.”

“We need to protect people from the spread of the virus and at the same time we need to make sure that we maintain the flow of goods. It is vital to keep the mobility sector going to ensure economic continuity. 

“We need to do more to reduce the pressure on our healthcare system. Here in Europe we are heavily affected by the virus… the less travel, the more we can contain the virus.

“Therefore, as I have just informed our G7 partners, I propose to heads of states and governments to introduce temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the European Union.”

Travel is already restricted to several EU-member countries, including Denmark and Poland, which have closed their borders to contain the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus. 

The Czech Republic, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovakia and Cyprus have also closed their borders, while Germany has put severe restrictions in place on its borders. 

Von der Leyen said the 30 day period could be extended “as necessary” and there will be exemptions to the ban, including for long-term residents of the EU, family members of EU nationals, and diplomats. 

Doctors, nurses, care workers, researchers and experts tackling the coronavirus pandemic should be allowed to continue to travel in the European Union, she said. 

To reduce the risk such a ban could pose on economic viability of EU states, von der Leyen is promising “so-called green lanes/fast lanes to give priority to essential transport like medical goods, perishable goods, notably food and emergency services.”

The European Commission president said she is today discussing measures with the G7 leaders – measures to support the economy which will develop a temporary framework of state aid for all member states “at unprecedented levels”.

Europe was last week declared the epicentre of the pandemic of the coronavirus global outbreak now due to the fast pace at which it is spreading in European countries.  

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