EU Leaders Warn Tougher Restrictions On Travel Could Come Within Days If Efforts To Curb The Spread Of The Virus Fell Short.
Both Von der Leyen and Charles Michel have warned tougher restrictions on travel could come within days if efforts to curb the spread of the virus fell short. However, the two leaders also said the bloc was keen to avoid a repeat of the height of the first wave, in the spring of 2020, when several member states unilaterally closed off national borders, sparking travel and economic chaos.
“It is absolutely important to keep the single market functioning,” von der Leyen said, so that workers and freight can continue to cross borders within the bloc. The EU is “one epidemiological zone,” she said. “We will only contain the virus if we have targeted measures, and not unnecessary measures like a blanket closure of borders, which would severely hurt our economy, but not very much restrict the virus.”
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo had pushed for a complete halt to non-essential travel, such as tourism. “The slightest spark could push the figures back up again. We need to protect our good position,” he said. After enduring extreme difficulties as the second wave hit when hospital beds were at a premium, Belgium now has fewer cases per capita than its European neighbours.
In recent weeks, new variants of the coronavirus had appeared through mutations, which are more contagious than the previous pathogen. UK PM Boris Johnson warned tonight, Friday, Jan. 22, that the new variant is more deadly.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel had not ruled out the introduction of border controls while France said it was in favour of “health checks” at the EU’s internal borders. Luxembourg, however, has remained steadfast in its opposition to such restrictions.
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