EU closes border, to ban all non-essential travel to Europe
London, March 17, 2020 (AltAfrica)-The European Union, EU is imposing temporary ban on all non-essential travel to the its 27 member states in a bid for a unified effort to limit Covid-19 spread and reduce the burden on European countries’ health systems.
The restrictions, proposed by European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, would be in place for an initial period of 30 days, which can be prolonged as necessary.
The restrictions aim to bolster the EU’s coordinated efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
The @EU_Commission presents guidelines on border measures & proposes:— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) March 16, 2020
1⃣Green lanes/fast lanes giving priority to essential transport to keep the mobility sector going & ensure economic continuity
2⃣Temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU (30 days) pic.twitter.com/9bda9MntF0
The Commission president said that the intention is to reduce the “huge pressure” on the health care systems of member states. “In Europe, we are heavily affected by the virus and we know anything which reduces social interaction also decrease the speed of the spread of the virus. The less travel, the more we can contain the virus,” she said.
Von der Leyen, who was speaking following a video conference with the G7 countries, said that long-term residents in the EU, family members of EU nationals, diplomats, and essential staff such as doctors, nurses, care workers, researchers and experts will be exempted from the ban and will continue to be allowed in the Union.
People transporting goods will also be exempted. Von der Leyen emphasised that the “flow of goods to the EU must continue to secure the supply of essential items such as medicines, food, and components our factories needs”.
Frontier workers who legally commute across the border from neighbouring countries will also not be effected by the new rules.
The four Schengen associated states – Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, and Lichtenstein – will also be expected to apply the restrictions.
Von der Leyen said that UK citizens would not be affected by the ban. “UK citizens are European citizens, so there are no restrictions for them to travel to the continent,” she said. The UK however, which is no longer an EU member but is currently still in a transition period during which Union law applies, will be expected to adhere to the new rules.
Green lanes/fast lanes giving priority to essential transport such as medical goods and perishable goods – namely emergency services and food – are also being proposed.
Agreements on the restrictions should be finalised on Tuesday.
Green lanes/fast lanes giving priority to essential transport to keep the mobility sector going & ensure economic continuity
EU developing state aid framework for all member countries
On the economic front, Von der Leyen said that discussions were ongoing with G7 leader for measures to support the global economy. The EU was also developing a temporary framework for state aid for all member states, she said.
“This will allow the provision of state aid at unprecedented levels. It would enable businesses to access liquidity for the coming months… and much more is to come,” the Commission president said