EU chief proposes 30-day travel ban over coronavirus fears

The European Union moved Monday to suppress the spread of the coronavirus by restricting foreign travelers while also proposing fast-track traffic lanes to make sure vital medical equipment reaches EU citizens, the Associated Press reports.

The plan was announced almost a week after a nationwide lockdown took effect in Italy, the country with the most reported virus cases in the world except for China. Spain followed suit over the weekend, while other EU nations have adopted ad hoc national measures, including partial border closures.

EU officials fear that countries acting alone and without coordination might make things more difficult for neighbors whose health-care systems are already creaking. The virus has infected more than 50,000 people across Europe and caused 2,000 deaths.

“The less travel, the more we can contain the virus,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said, as she unveiled the plan that Brussels will put to to the bloc’s 27 leaders at a summit to be held via video-conference on Tuesday.

She said travel restrictions into Europe should be put in place for an initial period of 30 days. Exemptions could be given to long-term residents in the EU, border area workers, family members of European nationals and diplomats.

British citizens would not be included in the ban, even though the country officially withdrew from the EU on Jan. 31

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