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Europe’s borders should remain closed, says French President

written by Dylan Nicholson | April 14, 2020

French President Emmanuel Macron has called for the  European Union to close its 26-country Schengen area to non-citizens for at least another five months.

In a teleconference, he cited the difference in the current stages of the virus around the world and stated that opening airports to non-essential travel could bring a second wave to Europe.

An initial lockdown that began on 17 March was due to end this week.

Europe has been badly hit by the COVID-19 crisis with Italy, Spain, France and the UK all experiencing between 10,000 and 20,000 fatalities.

With this terrible toll there are calls for Europe’s borders to remain closed long into the future to prevent a second wave of illness as some less effected countries relax restrictions.

The European Commission has invited the European states part of the Schengen area, and the associated states to prolong the external border closure for non-essential travel to EU for another month, until 15 May.

The Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, asserted that all member states and the associated states have successfully implemented social distancing measures to limit social interaction and curb 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,” she said.

Whereas the Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, added that the current situation compels the EU to call for an extension of the restriction measures on non-essential travel to the EU.

“While co-ordinated 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. We will continue assisting the member states in all these strands of work.”

Possible further prolongation of the travel restriction beyond after 15 May will be assessed again, based on the evolution of the epidemiological situation.

An Air France Airbus A380. (Rob Finlayson)
An Air France Airbus A380. (Rob Finlayson)

President Macron’s suggested September date has not been without contestation with some European countries already easing restriction within their own borders.

Austria is allowing restaurants and shops to reopen and will be reopening land borders, Denmark is reopening schools, the Czech Republic is planning to relax social distancing rules, and even Spain, one of the hardest-hit countries, will be allowing some non-essential workers to return to work.

China, the origin country of the virus, has also been slowly easing restrictions on travel and has since seen an increase due to imported cases providing a warning for some.

The UK and France are committed to current restrictions until at least the end of May as they still face growing death tolls.


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