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Coronavirus: EU urges closing bloc's borders until mid-June

May 8, 2020

The European Commission has called on EU member states to uphold travel bans on non-essential travel to the bloc. EU officials also said priority must be given to restoring frictionless travel within the bloc.

Barriers along the Polish-Ukrainian border
Image: picture-alliance/PAP/D. Delmanowicz

The European Commission on Friday recommended extending travel restrictions for non-EU nationals at the bloc's external borders until June 15, saying "the situation remains fragile both in Europe and worldwide."

In March, EU countries agreed to close their external borders to non-EU nationals in a bid to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. The European Commission spearheaded efforts to close the bloc's external borders shortly after the US suspended all travel for European nationals.

Read more: EU closes borders to foreigners to halt coronavirus spread: What to know

EU officials said frictionless travel within the bloc's internal borders and the visa-free Schengen area would be prioritized over non-essential travel from non-EU countries.

"Restrictions on free movement and internal border controls will need to be lifted gradually before we can remove restrictions at the external borders and guarantee access to the EU for non-EU residents for non-essential travel," said Ylva Johansson, EU Commission for Home Affairs.

"We need a phased and coordinated approach," Johansson added. "Restoring the normal functioning of the Schengen area of free movement is our first objective as soon as the health situation allows it."

Countries across the globe have enacted stringent restrictions on non-essential travel. In Europe, the measures have effectively torpedoed economies across the continent and decimated tourism industries.

Read more: COVID-19 death rate sinking? Data reveals a complex reality

Going forward, the European Commission said, "Any further prolongation of the travel restriction beyond June 15, 2020, would need to be assessed again, based on the evolution of the epidemiological situation."

A brief history of pandemics

ls/sms (dpa, AFP)
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