EU proposes 30-day travel ban to tackle coronavirus - but won’t apply to UK

A graffiti consisting of the text "Stay Home" and a symbolic novel coronavirus has been sprayed on t

A graffiti consisting of the text "Stay Home" and a symbolic novel coronavirus has been sprayed on the ground in Munich, Germany. (Sven Hoppe/dpa via AP) - Credit: AP

The European Union is planning to shut its borders to non-essential travellers for at least 30 days in a dramatic move aimed at limiting the spread of coronavirus.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has proposed the measures, which will not apply to the UK.

Von der Leyen said: '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 spread of the virus.'

The commission chief said she was proposing to the EU's national leaders a 'temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the European Union'.

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'These travel restrictions should be in place for an initial period of 30 days which can be prolonged as necessary.'

In a press conference explaining her proposal she said the ban would not apply to UK citizens.

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'The UK citizens are European citizens so of course there are no restrictions for the UK citizens to travel to the continent,' she said.

The UK broke away from the EU on January 31 but remains aligned with the bloc's single market and customs union rules during a transition period lasting until the end of the year.

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The proposed ban on travel to the EU would have exemptions for long-term residents, family members of EU nationals and diplomats.

Doctors, nurses, care workers and experts tackling the coronavirus pandemic would also be exempt, Von der Leyen said.

The transport of goods would also be exempt from the proposed ban, she added, as would frontier workers who commute across the EU's borders.

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