The President of the European Union Ursula von der Leyen has proposed a blanket restriction on non-essential travel to member states in a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19.
In her remarks made on Monday, der Leyen said her proposal would see a travel ban imposed for an initial period of 30 days, subject to review at its expiry.
“Here in Europe, we are heavily affected by the virus 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,” she said.
“These travel restrictions should be in place for an initial period of 30 days which can be prolonged as necessary.”
The ban would however exclude diplomats, members of families of European Union nationals and diplomats, doctors, nurses, care workers, researchers, experts and transporters of goods.
The proposal comes after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared last week that Europe is now the center of the COVID-19 outbreak, having recorded more cases and deaths that the rest of the world combined, excluding China.
The COVID-19 outbreak was first reported in the city of Wuhan, central China’s Hubei Province, in December 2019. Experts have attributed the outbreak to a novel coronavirus that has since spread across China and abroad.
As of Monday 16 March, 2020. More than 153,000 cases had been reported globally.
Many countries have since moved to impose travel restrictions, bans on public gatherings, shut down schools and universities as well as sporting events in a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19.