Top European official proposes temporary restrictions on travel to EU

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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Monday announced plans for temporary travel restrictions on all “non-essential” travel to the European Union (EU), as the continent seeks to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.  

“The less travel, the more we can contain the virus. Therefore, as I have just informed our G-7 partners, I propose to the heads of state and government to introduce temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the European Union,” von der Leyen said in a video statement posted to Twitter.

She added that these “guidelines for border measures” will be in place for at least 30 days, but can be “prolonged as necessary.”

Among those exempt from the travel ban include long-term residents in the EU, family members of EU nationals and diplomats. She also added that doctors, nurses, care workers and others deemed essential to combating the coronavirus, as well as those transporting goods, will not be subject to the restrictions.

The announcement comes days after President Trump abruptly announced that the U.S. was implementing a travel ban on most of Europe, a move that drew criticism from von der Leyen and other European officials, who said they weren’t warned.

Europe has become one of the flashpoints in the global coronavirus pandemic, with Italy, Spain and France being particularly hard-hit. Those three countries, all members of the EU, each announced their highest single-day death tolls to date from the virus on Sunday.

Countries across Europe have enacted swift measures to help halt the spread of the virus, with Italy, Spain and France currently on lockdown. Germany on Monday announced it was shutting down many public venues, with Chancellor Angela Merkel set to deliver further remarks later in the day. 

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