The European Commission (EC) has proposed the introduction of a temporary restriction on all non-essential travel to the European Union.
In a video posted to Twitter Monday afternoon, EC President Ursula von der Leyen said she had just told members of the G7 that she was making the proposal to European heads of state.
According to the Guardian, Von Der Leyen said there would be no restrictions on UK citizens wanting to travel to the EU as they were “European citizens”.
In the video, she says:
“The European Union and other parts of the world are confronted with a public health crisis due to the spread of the coronavirus. Our healthcare system is under huge pressure.
“Therefore member states have taken strong measures to slow down the spread of the virus. These measures are effective only when they are coordinated.
“This is why we present today guidelines on border measures.
“On the one hand we need to protect people from the spread of the virus. At the same time we have to make sure that we maintain the flow of goods.
“It is vital to keep the mobility sector going in order to ensure economic continuity. Therefore we propose so-called ‘green lanes’/’fast lanes’, to give priority to essential transport like medical goods, perishable goods notably food and emergency services.
“But we need to do more to reduce the huge pressure on our healthcare system. Here in Europe we are heavily affected by the virus. We know that everything that reduces social interaction, reduces the speed of the spread of the virus.
“The less travel, the more we can contain the virus. Therefore as I have just informed our G7 partners, I propose to the heads of state and government to introduce temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the European Union.
“These travel restrictions should be in place for an initial period of 30 days, which can be prolonged as necessary.
“There are exemptions. Long-term residents in the European Union, family members of European Union nationals and diplomats would also be exempted from the restriction.
“Essential staff such as doctors, nurses, care workers, researchers and experts that help address the coronavirus should continue to be allowed in the European Union.
“People transporting goods are exempted too … because the flow of good to the European Union must continue.”
Some countries within Europe, including Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic and Denmark, have begun introducing strict restrictions on travel.
The US has banned travellers who have been in any of the 26 countries within the Schengen border-free travel area within 14 days of arrival. Over the weekend it was announced that the UK and Ireland would be added to the list.