EU extends Europe travel ban until May 15 as coronavirus crisis grips continent

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has begged member states to extend the travel ban until May 15. The renewed restrictions – which do not apply to the UK – come as European capitals plot their exit strategies from their own measures to curb the spread of the global pandemic. They ban all non-essential travel from countries to the EU from outside the 27-member bloc, and invited non-members, such as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

Governments have been invited to extend the travel ban, but without their permission it could easily collapse.

EU migration chief Margaritis Schinas said: “All Member States have successfully implemented social distancing measures to limit social interaction and slow down the spread of the virus.

“The restriction on non-essential travel from third counties to the EU complements these measures at the EU’s external borders.

“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.”

Ylva Johansson, the EU’s home affairs boss, added: “The current situation compels us to call for a prolongation of the restriction on non-essential travel to the EU.”

Meanwhile the Commission has come under heavy criticism from the member states after it emerged eurocrats had been ordered to devise an EU-wide exit strategy for national coronavirus measures.

The Brussels-based executive was forced to row back on the policy after a series of leaks.

Mrs von der Leyen wanted to force member states to sign up to a strict criteria when loosening restrictions aimed at combating the global pandemic, according to an internal memo, seen by Express.co.uk.

The draft states before governments can relax there rules the spread of the virus must have “significantly decreased’ and hospitals must have “sufficient capacity”.

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Capitals must also inform the Commission “in due time before they lift measures”, according to the plan.

If there is a second wave of coronavirus infections, the Commission suggests: “The exit must be continuously monitored and preparedness developed for returning to stricter containment measures in case of strong resurgence.”

One EU source said the plan had “received a thorough rebuke by member states”.

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Mrs von der Leyen’s spokesman announced the plans had been shelved after the negative response from capitals.

He said: “It was felt after contacts with member states and upon further reflection that a bit more time was needed before the final adoption should move forward.

“The timing of the adoption of our recommendations to member states is indeed quite a tricky issue because indeed member states find themselves in different stages of the fight against the pandemic.”

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