Despite harsh criticism of the US President’s actions by Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, EU governments decided to impose their own travel restrictions in response to the worsening viral outbreak. Slovakia, Malta and the Czech Republic all announced border closures as part of their strategy to restrict the spread of coronavirus. Prague moved to ban travellers crossing from Germany and Austria and also block foreigners coming from countries most affected by the viral outbreak.
Prime minister Andrej Babis warned Czechs they will also be barred from travelling to those countries, which include a number of EU nations.
The full list includes EU member states Italy, Sweden, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Denmark as well as Britain, Norway, Switzerland, China, South Korea and Iran.
Whereas Slovakia decided it would close its borders to all foreigners, except Poles, in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus.
As of Friday morning, “no foreign citizens will be allowed to enter Slovakia”, according to an interior ministry spokesman.
He added: “At the border crossings with Poland, only Polish citizens will be allowed to enter the country.”
The country’s international airports and schools will be shutting down as part of the sweeping measures.
Malta’s ban only extends to travel from Italy, Germany, France, Spain and Switzerland, according to its prime minister Robert Abela.
He said: “The decision has been taken on the advice of the medical authorities because of the sharp increase in the spread of the virus.”
Travellers arriving from Italy and other countries slapped with the ban face a on-the-spot fine of €1,000.
The European centre for disease control has ramped up its warnings over coronavirus, claiming health systems could soon become overrun due to the spread.
A statement from the EU agency said: “The risk of healthcare system capacity being exceeded in the EU/EEA and the UK in the coming weeks is considered high.
“The impact and risk assessment on health system capacity can be mediated by the application of effective infection prevention and control and surge capacity measures.”
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This morning, the EU Council and Commission chief condemned Mr Trump’s own travel ban.
Mrs von der Leyen and Mr Michel, in a joint statement, blast the move to impose the restrictions “unilaterally and without consultation”.
The bloc’s most senior officials said: “The Corona virus is a global crisis, not limited to any continent and it requires cooperation rather than unilateral action.
“The European Union disapproves of the fact that the U.S. decision to impose a travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation.”
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The Commission will close its doors on Monday, forcing most of its 32,000 staff to work from home, as part of its own strategy to reduce the risk of further spread of the virus.
Only staff in “critical functions” will need to be present at work, according to an internal memo.
“At this stage, six colleagues have tested positive… As of Monday, all colleagues in non-critical functions will have to telework,” Mrs von der Leyen told officials.
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