Europe shuts its borders overnight to block visitors for 30 days

Europe shuts its borders overnight to block visitors for 30 days
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Countries across Europe have begun blocking overseas visitors from entering amid the coronavirus crisis (Picture: Reuters/EPA)

Countries across Europe have begun closing their borders after the EU outlined plans for a 30-day ban on all non-essential travel to its 27 member states.

France, Germany and Bulgaria today blocked travel even within the free-moving Schengen zone in bids to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Border guards have been stationed at crossings between Spain and France, Portugal and Spain, Switzerland and France and in nothern Germany as countries prepare to go into lockdown and block tourists entering.

The Foreign Office has advised British nationals against ‘all but essential’ travel to many parts of the world due to the risk posed by the virus, or the risk of being cut off as transport links are shut.

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Border patrol guards at the French Spanish border as travel closes amid the coronavirus crisis (Picture: Reuters)

Meanwhile a host of countries have announced emergency border closures in a bid to impede the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said the only people exempt from the EU-wide travel ban would be long-term residents, family members of EU nationals, diplomats and those on the frontline of dealing with the crisis – doctors and nurses.

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Also exempt would be freight drivers, she said, adding: ‘The flow of goods to the European Union must continue to secure the supply of goods, including essential items such as medicine, but also food and components that our factories need.’

She said the ban would not include British citizens as ‘they are European citizens’.

Emergency medical and food supplies into the bloc will be able to use special ‘fast lanes’ to ensure health services and supermarkets can cope with demand.

An empty Arc de Triomphe, at the end of the deserted Avenue des Champs Elysees in Paris as France moves into nationwide lockdown (Picture: Getty)
Police control traffic at the border crossing from Spain to France as the government temporarily restricts travel (Picture: Getty)

The Schengen area includes 22 EU countries but not member states Ireland, Cyprus, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria.

Non EU-members Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein are also within it.

Ms von der Leyen added: ‘Here in Europe we are heavily affected by coronavirus and we know that everything that reduces social interaction also reduces the speed of the spread of the virus.

‘The less travel, the more we can contain the virus. Therefore, as I have just informed our G7 partners, I propose to the heads of state and governments, to introduce temporary restrictions on non-essential travel to the European Union.’

France has announced some of the most strident measures on its own citizens, including the closure of all non-essential businesses such as shops, cafes, restaurants and cinemas and ski resorts, as well as schools, nurseries and universities.

From midday, all French citizens will be told to stay at home unless absolutely necessary, with penalties for those who break the rules.

On Monday evening, President Emmanuel Macron warned: ‘We are at a war: A health war.

‘We fight not against an army, or against another nation, but the enemy is there – it advances and that requires national mobilisation.’ French troops have been deployed to transport patients to a new field hospital.

Bulgaria has banned entrants from 15 countries with large coronavirus outbreaks, including Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, the UK and Switzerland as of March 18, the health ministry said on Monday.

Germany today closed its borders with France, Austria and Switzerland, restricting travel to commercial only.

And Spain also announced it would close its borders at midnight, cancelling holidays for thousands of Britons.



How countries around the world are reacting to coronavirus

Europe and the EU

  • France
    France has announced some of the most strident measures on its own citizens, including the closure of all non-essential businesses such as shops, cafes, restaurants and cinemas and ski resorts, as well as schools, nurseries and universities.
    On Monday evening, President Emmanuel Macron warned any French citizens that flout the ban could face ‘sanctions’.
    In a televised address, he said: ‘We are at a war: A health war.
    ‘We fight not against an army, or against another nation, but the enemy is there – it advances and that requires national mobilisation.’
  • Italy
    The hardest-hit European nation so far with more than 1,800 deaths, the FCO advises against all but essential travel to all of Italy, including Sicily and Sardinia.
    The country is in lockdown and the Italian authorities have advised against travel for tourism purposes and said tourists already on holiday in Italy should limit their movements to those necessary to return to the place where they live.
    Spain
    Spain introduced a state of emergency on March 14 banning public gatherings and temporarily closing all non-essential business.
    The FCO advises against all but essential travel to the country.
  • Greece
    Everyone arriving in Greece from abroad was required to self-isolate for 14 days as of Monday. The government has also prohibited the docking of cruise ships and sail boats in Greek ports.
    All cafes, bars and restaurants have been ordered to close, along with shopping centres, cinemas and theatres as well as the majority of leisure and sporting activities.
    Supermarkets, bakeries, pharmacies and takeaway food services continue to operate.
  • Cyprus
    A state of emergency was declared in the country on Sunday. All hotels and tourist accommodation have been instructed to close by Saturday until April 30.
    The FCO has advised against all but essential travel to Cyprus and is urging people to follow the advice of the Cypriot authorities, including leaving their tourist accommodation by March 21.
  • Denmark
    British nationals are advised against all but essential travel to the whole country, after Danish authorities announced they would be closing the borders for a month in response to the pandemic.
    Foreign nationals who ‘do not have a recognised purpose for entering Denmark’ will be barred from entry.
  • Poland
    The FCO advises against all but essential travel to the country, owing to restrictions being put in place following the outbreak, which has seen borders closed and border controls introduced.
    Non-Polish nationals will only be able to enter the country if they are a spouse or child of a Polish national, hold a Pole’s Card, or otherwise have the right to stay or work in the country.
  • Slovenia
    The Slovenian government announced the cancellation of air traffic from 11.59pm on Monday, leaving those travelling to the country at risk of becoming stranded.
    The Slovenian border with Austria remains open for UK nationals, but the FCO has warned there will be no direct flights between Austria and the UK from midnight on Monday and has advised against all but essential travel.
  • Hungary
    The Hungarian government has announced a state of emergency and said on Monday it would be closing its borders to all foreigners, with only Hungarian citizens permitted to enter.
    The UK government has advised British nationals against all but essential travel to the whole country.
  • Norway
    The Norwegian authorities have said that all non-resident visitors arriving from countries other than Finland and Sweden would be asked to leave Norway on arrival, prompting the FCO to advise against all but essential travel.
    British nationals legally resident in Norway will be allowed to enter the country but must enter self-quarantine for 14 days.
    Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) and Norwegian Airlines have announced they will be cancelling 80% of their flights from Monday.
  • Montenegro
    The FCO is advising against all but essential travel to Montenegro due to the government’s decision to introduce measures including a ban on entry to all foreigners save for freight vehicle drivers and those with a permanent or temporary residence permit.
    Other measures include the closure of all bars and restaurants, as well as all shops excluding food shops and pharmacies.
    British nationals wishing to leave are urged to do so as soon as possible.
  • Serbia
    Serbia has temporarily banned entry for foreigners, although its own citizens and those with a temporary or permanent residence permit are still allowed to enter.
    All international arrivals who do have permission to enter will be required to self-isolate for at least 14 days, while those arriving from Italy, Romania, Spain, Germany, France, Austria, Slovenia and Greece must self-isolate for 28 days.
    The FCO advises against all but essential travel to the country, and asks those wishing to leave to make arrangements to do so as soon as possible.
  • Russia
    The Russian government announced it will restrict entry into the whole country for almost all foreign citizens from Wednesday until May 1 with a small number of exceptions.
  • Elsewhere in Europe
    The FCO has advised against all but essential travel to Austria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Malta, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, parts of Portugal, Albania, Kosovo and San Marino, citing reasons including travel restrictions and flight cancellations, the risk of being placed into quarantine and the risk of contracting the virus.

North America

  • Canada
    Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau announced on Monday the country would be partially closing its borders in response to Covid-19.
    Non-Canadian citizens will be refused entry, although US citizens are exempt from the ban.
    Also exempt are permanent residents, immediate family of Canadian citizens, diplomats and aircrew.
  • United States
    On March 14, the US government extended an existing European travel ban to the UK and Ireland, with the exception of returning US citizens and legal residents.
    The FCO subsequently updated its advice on March 15 and advised against all but essential travel to the whole country.
  • Central and South America
    The FCO also advises against all but essential travel to Argentina, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay and Peru for UK nationals due to the risk of being placed into quarantine and the possibility of becoming stranded due to travel restrictions

Asia

  • China
    The FCO advises against all travel to Hubei province due to the outbreak, and against all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China. If you are in China and able to leave, the FCO says you should do so.
  • Indonesia
    The FCO advises against all travel to two parts of the country close to Mount Agung and Mount Sinabung craters due to ongoing volcanic activity.
    The department advises against all but essential travel to the rest of the country due to a 14-day quarantine requirement.
  • Elsewhere in Asia
    The FCO advises against all but essential travel to the South Korean cities of Daegu, Cheongdo and Gyeongsan which have been designated ‘special care zones’ by authorities due to outbreaks, as well as to Burma, Mongolia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam.
    Travellers to these countries face becoming stranded due to travel restrictions, being placed in quarantine or of potentially catching the virus.

Africa

  • Kenya
    The FCO advises against all but essential travel to Kenya after authorities there announced measures restricting people, other than Kenyan citizens and resident permit holders, from going if they have travelled through countries affected by coronavirus, including the UK.
    The restrictions will come into effect from Tuesday.
  • South Africa
    The FCO advises against all but essential travel to South Africa following restrictions announced limiting who can enter the country.
    Authorities said travellers from high-risk countries, including the UK and US, would not be permitted to enter the country from March 18.
    Visitors from high-risk countries, including the UK, who have entered the country since mid-February will be required to present themselves for testing.
  • Egypt
    The country announced on Monday evening that flights to and from Egypt will be suspended from midday on Thursday until March 31, and the FCO has advised against all but essential travel to the region.
    Those already in the country are advised to immediately arrange their departure.
  • Tunisia
    All international flights from and to Tunisia will be suspended from Wednesday and the FCO is urging those still in the country to contact their airline or tour operator and arrange to leave as soon as possible.
  • Elsewhere in Africa
    The countries of Liberia, Malawi, Morocco and Sierra Leone are also considering travel restrictions and enforced quarantine on travellers from high-risk countries such as the UK, prompting the FCO to advise against all but essential travel to those countries.

New Zealand and Australia

  • New Zealand
    Arrivals from countries other than China and Iran will have to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival, the department said. Foreign nationals arriving from China or Iran will not be allowed to enter the country.
  • Australia
    The government announced that all persons including its own citizens arriving from abroad would be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.
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