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Coronavirus: EU to ban travel into Europe to curb spread

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen (Photo European Commission/Facebook)
European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen (Photo European Commission/Facebook)

The European Union plans to ban all nonessential travel into the region for at least 30 days.

“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,” said European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen.

“These travel restrictions should be in place for an initial period of 30 days, but can be prolonged as necessary.”

Under the plan to be approved by European leaders, only essential travel will be allowed for at least a month.

In a press conference, von der Leyen said: “We think nonessential travel should be reduced right now in order not to spread the virus further, be it within the European Union or by leaving the European Union, but also to avoid nonessential travels not to have more potential strain on our healthcare system.”

Two weeks ago the US President Donald Trump suspended travel from Europe to the US amid coronavirus threats. He announced sweeping travel restrictions on 26 European countries including Germany in a bid to combat the spread of the virus. The ban applies to travelers from countries which are members of the Schengen border-free travel area.

Meanwhile the EU has intensified efforts to help EU citizens who are currently stranded outside the EU. “Repatriation efforts are aimed at EU travellers who have been stranded abroad. We are not talking about permanent residents (…) Our priority is to bring these people home”, said High Representative Josep Borrell. “There are countries where we have concerns, in Asia, Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, where a growing number of travellers are seeking help for return. The exact number, nobody knows, but it is for sure more than 200.000”.

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