Emmanuel Macron announced that “the borders at the entrance to the European Union and the Schengen area will be closed” from this Tuesday for a period of 30 days in order to limit the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said: “I propose to the Heads of State and Government to introduce provisional restrictions on non-essential travel to the EU” for 30 renewable days, adding that this period could be “extended if necessary.”
The president did not elaborate on when the restrictions would begin, but some countries such as Germany, Spain and Italy have already taken the decision to close their borders.
The President of the Republic has announced that there are exceptions for “the French currently abroad” who will be able to return to France, but also the relatives of a European Union national, diplomats, as well as doctors, nurses, social workers, researchers and experts.
Carriers are also not affected by the restrictions to provide a supply of essential goods such as medicines or food. Cross-border workers will also be able to continue to navigate between two countries on a daily basis.
Ursula von der Leyen announced that she would present exceptional economic measures with G7 leaders, including a “temporary plan” on state aid, which will ensure “unprecedented” access to state aid in the coming months.
It also specified that “fast lanes would be introduced to give priority to essential transport, such as medical products, perishable goods, emergency services, etc.”
The @EU_Commission presents guidelines on border measures & proposes:
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
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) March 16, 2020
In numbers: To date, more than 51,000 cases are reported in the UK and the European Union according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Of these cases, about 23,000 are in Italy alone.
Ursula von der Leyen said: “Here in Europe, we are greatly affected by the virus and we know that anything that reduces social interactions also reduces the rate of spread of the virus. The less we move, the more we can contain the virus.”
She added: “The European Union and the whole world are facing a public health crisis due to the spread of coronavirus. Our health care system is under strain. For this reason, national authorities have taken strong measures to slow the spread of the virus. These measures will only be effective if countries cooperate… On the one hand, we need to protect individuals from the virus, and on the other we need to make sure that the flow of goods is not slowed down.”