Europe’s borders may stay shut for six months more due to threat of Covid-19 from US & other countries

The short list: Which countries will the EU open their doors to first from July 1? CREDIT: Bruno/Germany, Pixabay

ALTHOUGH the European Commission has advised Schengen States to prolong the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU until May 15, some believe that borders should stay shut for much longer. Some heads of state believe that Europe’s borders should remain shut until at least September to protect itself from Covid-19 risk from countries such as the US and other countries that are still in the early stages of the pandemic.

French President Emmanuel Macron is reported to have raised the possibility of Europe staying shut to most foreigners for six more months. In a recent interview with French media channel BFMTV, Macron said the idea is being considered by Schengen members because the pandemic is evolving at a different pace around the world, and “did not affect all countries at the same time.”

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Macron cited the example of the US where the coronavirus crisis is delayed by several weeks and therefore will reach its peak later, as well as Africa, where the situation is developing differently. He also believes that a second peak may occur in Asia.

For now, despite seeing “encouraging first results,” the European Commission has recommended Europe to extend the closure of its external borders until May 15. The Commission calls for a coordinated approach to the prolongation, as “action at the external borders can only be effective if implemented by all EU and Schengen States at all borders, with the same end date and in a uniform manner.

“While we can see encouraging first results, prolonging the travel restriction is necessary to continue reducing the risks of the disease spreading further. We should not yet let the door open whilst we are securing our house,” stated Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas.

Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, added that “the current situation compels us to call for a prolongation of the restriction on non-essential travel to the EU. While coordinated action is key at the external borders, we also need to work together at the internal borders to make sure our internal market continues to function properly, and that vital products such as food, medicines and protective equipment can reach their destination without delay”.

The Commission said it will assess the need to extend travel restriction beyond May 15 again, based on “the evolution of the epidemiological situation. Parallel and coordinated action at external borders will be an essential aspect of a concerted EU exit strategy and the gradual lifting of the containment measures in Europe,” it added.
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