Coronavirus: EU wants bloc’s borders sealed until June 15
The European Union’s external borders should remain shut for another month until June 15 due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a recommendation from the bloc’s executive.
“Despite progress in many European countries, the situation worldwide is very fragile,” European Commission vice-president Margaritis Schinas said.
The EU’s first priority is reinstating total freedom of movement within its own borders before it allows visitors from outside, the commission said in a statement.
“Restrictions on free movement and internal border controls will need to be lifted gradually before we can remove restrictions at the external borders,” EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said.
All 27 EU countries except Ireland agreed in mid-March to stop non-essential travel into the European Union in order to slow the spread of the virus.
Ireland and non-EU member Britain are part of a common travel area, making it hard for officials in Dublin to sign up to the EU measures.
The closely associated non-EU members of Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland also agreed to participate, taking the number of European countries involved to 30.
The travel current ban agreed by EU leaders continues until 15 May, with the proposed extension until 15 June. The restrictions do not apply to EU citizens, citizens of non-EU Schengen countries and their family members, and non-EU nationals who are long-term residents in the EU for the purpose of returning home.
There are also a range of exemptions including healthcare workers, researchers and experts helping to fight Covid-19, as well as those transporting freight. Frontier workers and seasonal agricultural workers from outside the EU are also unaffected.
The ban does not affect the UK because Britain is currently in its Brexit transition period where it is treated like an EU member state.