Brexit: EU-wide ban for UK
Coronavirus continues to ravage European countries with record daily numbers. The EU has become increasingly concerned by the more contagious variants circulating around the continent.
The European Commission has proposed creating new “dark red zones” which would be subject to tight travel restrictions whilst Europeans have been “strongly discouraged” from all but essential travel within the EU as coronavirus infections rise.
Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen insisted that internal borders must remain open for the single market to function but that members of the public should avoid travel.
“In view of the very serious health situation all non-essential travel should be strongly discouraged within a country and across borders,” she said.
“At the same time it’s important to keep the single market functioning. Goods and essential workers must continue to cross borders smoothly. This is of utmost importance.”
The question of imposing restrictions on internal borders to fight the spread of more contagious Covid-19 variants has risen to the fore in recent days.
Germany had proposed unified temporary and limited bans on all passenger traffic from non-EU countries if necessary.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned of the danger of a third wave from the new variants of coronavirus, as EU leaders drew up a blueprint that could lead to a ban on travellers from the UK and restrictions on movement across the bloc’s internal borders.
The German chancellor said member states needed to act in unison to avoid border closures even within the bloc, given the dangers presented by the highly contagious mutations of the virus.
Under the German proposal, European governments would be allowed to ban all UK residents from entering their countries and to cut all passenger transport links with Britain.
Border restrictions are a matter for individual member states but France and Germany plus EU officials in Brussels have been pushing for a coordinated response after the travel chaos that occurred during the first wave of the pandemic in spring 2020.
In March as infections soared around Europe several member states panicked and closed off national borders unilaterally, triggering travel chaos.
That decision came to be seen as disastrous, disrupting the already stumbling European economy, and the leaders say they will work hard to find ways to thwart new variants of the virus, while keeping factories and businesses running.
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Any UK travel ban would likely be enforced between mid-March and the end of July.
But it could be cut short as part of a European strategy to reboot the bloc’s tourism industry.
Berlin is keen to avoid a repeat of the cross-Channel trade chaos after French authorities last year closed its border with Britain.
The EU disease agency ECDC urged countries to prepare more stringent measures and speed up vaccine campaigns in the coming weeks because of the risks of more infectious variants of the novel coronavirus.
The European Centre Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said in a new report that countries in the EU and European Economic Area “should expect increased numbers of Covid-19 cases due to the gradual spread and possible dominance of the variants with increased transmissibility.”
“The key message is to prepare for a rapid escalation of the stringency of response measures in the coming weeks to safeguard healthcare capacity and to accelerate vaccination campaigns,” the agency said.
According to the agency the “rate and scale” of the spread would depend on the level of prevention measures and adherence to those measures.
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