European Union bans | Travellers From Outside Bloc
BRUSSELS: The European Union is banning travellers from outside the bloc for 30 days in a battle to contain the spread of coronavirus.
In an unprecedented move, the external borders of 26 EU states will be closed.
Although not EU members, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland are expected to adhere to the move. UK citizens will be unaffected.
The travel ban will affect all non-EU nationals from visiting the bloc, except long-term residents, family members of EU nationals, diplomats and healthcare workers. People transporting goods will also be exempt.
President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said: “The coronavirus pandemic is testing us all.
“This is not only an unprecedented challenge for our healthcare systems, but also a major shock for our economies.
“We stand ready to do more as the situation evolves.
“We will do whatever is necessary to support the Europeans and the European economy.”
Free travel is a key principle within the European border-free Schengen area.
However, in recent days many countries have unilaterally imposed full or partial border shutdowns in a bid to stop the spread of Covid-19.
This prompted the commission to propose that the bloc act in a more unified fashion and restrict entry to the union as a whole.
The move comes at the urging of French president, Emmanuel Macron. The ban comes as deaths continued to soar in Italy and Spain, while France has begun a strict lockdown. Europe has been badly hit by the virus, which has killed 7,500 globally. More than 185,000 people have been infected worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation.
At the same time, the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office has advised Brits to avoid all non-essential travel for 30 days. Citizens, however, are not explicitly barred from travel.