The president of the European Council has announced that the EU’s external borders will be closed for 30 days to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
Charles Michel announced that “the EU and its member states will do whatever it takes to address the current challenges.”
Press TV reports: Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the EU’s executive arm, said she would ask European leaders on Tuesday to impose full border restrictions and ban all non-essential travel throughout Europe’s Schengen free-travel zone in order to curb the spread of the deadly virus.
The European Commission chief added that long-term residents, family members of EU nationals, and diplomats as well as cross-border and healthcare workers would be exempt.
“The less travel, the more we can contain the virus,” von der Leyen said in a video message, stressing that the measures would be in place for at least 30 days.
The Schengen agreement allows the freedom of movement between almost all EU member states without any border control.
Over the past week, individual European countries have fully or partially sealed their borders to non-nationals and implemented extra border checks over the pandemic.
Von der Leyen made the comments ahead of a video-summit with EU leaders hosted by European Council chief, Charles Michel, in Brussels on Tuesday.
France had already on Monday suspended all trips between European and non-European countries. The country went into lockdown to contain the virus spread as the death toll in neighboring Italy jumped to above 2,000.