EU to restrict non-essential international travel to slow coronavirus spread

The European Union will introduce measures to temporarily restrict non-essential travel for non-member countries for 30 days in an effort to slow the spread of of the novel coronavirus, commission president Ursula von der Leyen announced on Monday.

“Here in Europe we are heavily affected by the virus and we know that everything that reduces social interaction also reduces the speed of the spread of the virus. The less travel, the more we can contain the virus,” von der Leyen said in a video posted to her official Twitter.

“Therefore, as I have just informed our G7 partners, I propose to the heads of state and government to introduce temporary restriction on nonessential travel to the EU.”

In the video, von der Leyen said the EU’s health care system was under “huge” amounts of pressure, and proposed so-called “green lanes” or “fast lanes” that would prioritize essential transport like medical supplies and perishable foods, as well as emergency services.

According to von der Leyen, the 30-day travel restrictions would be prolonged as necessary. She also spoke of exemptions.

Long-term residents, family members of EU nationals, and diplomats would be exempted, as well as essential staff such as doctors, nurses, care workers, researchers and experts who help address the coronavirus.

She added frontier workers who legally commute across the border from neighbouring countries and people transporting goods would also be excluded. “The flow of goods to the EU must continue to secure the supply of goods including essential items such as medicines but also food and components that our factories need.”

She said she would be discussing measures to support the economy with other G7 leaders later on Monday, and would be working to develop a temporary framework for state aid for all EU members.

“This would allow the provision of state at unprecedented levels. It would enable businesses to access liquidity for the coming month,” she said, adding there would be more to come.

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