EU to introduce 30-day ban on non-essential travel into EU.
The EU commission is considering a proposal which will impose temporary restrictions on travel for at least 30 days.
The EU is banning the “non-essential” entry of all foreign nationals. Only residents, family members and essential staff – healthcare workers and medical experts – will be exempt from the measures.
It also plans to set up fast “green lanes” to give priority to the transport of medical goods, food and emergency services.
Ms von der Leyen said: ‘Here in Europe we are heavily affected by coronavirus and we know that everything that reduces social interaction also reduces the speed of the spread of the virus.
‘The less travel, the more we can contain the virus.
‘Therefore, as I have just informed our G7 partners, I propose to the heads of state and governments, to introduce temporary restrictions on non-essential travel to the European Union.’
With Italy reporting the most virus cases and deaths anywhere in the world except China, neighbouring countries including Austria and Slovenia have moved to slow traffic. But other EU nations, including Germany, Poland, Slovakia and Cyprus, have also introduced restrictions that could damage the bloc’s economy and slow down the circulation of medical equipment.
Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania and Germany plus non-member Switzerland have notified the commission that they have taken immediate steps under the EU’s border rule book allowing member states in exceptional circumstances to reintroduce border checks for a limited period. The EU’s borders code stipulates that the initial period of 10 days can be renewed for up to two months.
The different approaches in different countries are raising concerns that vital medical equipment may be blocked. The EU is urging its members to put common health screening procedures in place at their borders to limit the spread of the virus, but not to block the transport of important medical equipment.
In a series of guidelines for border management measures, the commission urged member states to facilitate the circulation of workers, to ensure an efficient movement of goods and to impose restrictions only when they are “duly motivated” and science-based.
In Germany the federal government has announced the closure of a range of non-essential retail outlets in its latest bid to curb the spread of coronavirus.
If confirmed, the moves would bring Germany a step nearer to a state of total lockdown like that in force in Italy and Spain, where most people are confined to their homes, and wreak further economic disruption.
At least 36 people have now died in the UK after being diagnosed with coronavirus, after Wales confirmed its first death.
The patient, who was in their sixties and had underlying health conditions, died at Wrexham Maelor Hospital.
Across the UK, 1,543 people have now tested positive for Covid-19, up from 1,372 at the same time on Sunday. However, many thousands more are estimated to have been infected.
It comes as Boris Johnson prepares to hold a televised press conference on Monday following an emergency meeting of the Cobra committee, and Health Secretary Matt Hancock will update MPs in the Commons.