EU leaders agree to close external borders
European Union leaders have agreed to close the bloc’s external borders to most travelers to ward off the advancement of the coronavirus.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted that she had spoken with the heads of EU member states and they agreed to adopt the border measures she had proposed a day earlier.
In today’s #EUCO videoconference on #COVID19, EU Member States endorsed @EU_Commission proposals on border measures, the economy, joint public procurement and research to fight the #coronavirus.
More work ahead, the crisis requires it. pic.twitter.com/itgs2j0iWt
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) March 17, 2020
German Chancellor Angela Merkel had earlier announced plans to close external borders during a press conference on Tuesday, according to CNBC.
The borders will remain closed for 30 days.
Travel between the EU nations will still be allowed, as the measure attempts to blockade any travelers coming from outside of the union who could be carriers of the virus.
European Council President Charles Michel said the EU would arrange for the repatriation of citizens of member countries.
“The union and its member states will do whatever it takes,” Michel said.
A number of EU nations have been hit by the virus, including Italy, which has been hit particularly hard with more than 30,000 cases and 2,500 deaths as of Tuesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Spain has also been hit by a surge in cases, climbing to more than 5,000 with a death toll of more than 500.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a similar move on Monday, saying that the nation would close borders to foreigners, excluding traveling U.S. citizens.
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