“The less travel, the more we can contain the virus. Therefore … I propose to the heads of state and government [that they] introduce a temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU,” President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said on Monday, while announcing out COVID-19 containment recommendations to all member states.
Long-term EU residents and family members of EU nationals, as well as diplomats and doctors battling the virus, will be exempted from the travel ban.
Apart from that, the guidelines suggest that emergency medical and food supplies into the bloc are provided with special “fast lanes” to ensure that supermarkets and health institutions are able to cope with the growing demand.
The travel ban will also not affect UK citizens, despite London’s decision to leave the bloc.
“The UK citizens are European citizens, so of course there are no restrictions for the UK citizens to travel to the continent,” von der Leyen stated.
The proposed measures are expected to be discussed – through a video conference – by the EU Council on Tuesday. It remains to be seen how exactly the plan will be implemented – if approved by the bloc members altogether. Such travel ban would require participation of the visa-free Schengen Zone member-states that are not a part of the bloc. It also remains unclear whether the EU states that are not within the Schengen will have to join it or not.
The EU Commission proposals also suggest the re-introduction of controls on the internal borders between the member states. The health screening would be conducted only on one side of the border, to prevent people from being tested twice and thus minimizing the large queues that carry an increased danger of spreading the virus.