The EU including most Schengen zone countries may extend the current border closure of the bloc’s … [+]
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Europe’s Schengen zone may keep its borders shut until September, to defend itself against the threat of COVID-19 from U.S. and other travelers. French President Emmanuel Macron has raised the possibility of the usually border-free countries staying shut to most foreigners for six more months.
During a videoconference last Friday with trade unions, Macron said the idea is being considered by Schengen members, according to French media reports. The reason he gave was the fact that the pandemic is evolving at a different pace around the world, and “did not affect all countries at the same time.”
So the implication is that Europe needs to protect itself from the threat posed by travelers coming from high-risk countries. “Emmanuel Macron notably cited the example of the United States, where the coronavirus crisis is delayed by several weeks and which will therefore reach its peak later,” BFMTV reported. “But also that of Africa, where the situation is developing differently. In Asia, a second peak may occur.”
Macron’s comments came two days after European Union officials called for member states to extend the border closure for another month at least, until mid-May.
The EU says it needs more time to battle the health crisis, of which Europe is the global epicentre. Despite seeing “encouraging first results”, it wants to extend the closure of its external borders until May 15.
“…the experience of Member States and other countries exposed to the pandemic shows the measures applied to fight the spread of the virus require more than 30 days to be effective,” the European Commission said in a press release on Thursday.
30 EU and Schengen countries closed their borders on March 17 to contain the pandemic. Since then, the travel ban has blocked entry to those nations for all tourists and most foreigners. The initial 30-day border closure will end towards April 16. If members agree to renewing it, Europe will remain in an unprecedented state of lockdown, barricaded off to the outside world for at least two months in total.
The travel restrictions mapped out by the Commission have been implemented by 26 members of the Union, as well as four other countries who are part of Schengen but not of the EU: Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. Ireland was the only EU member to not implement the border closure.
Border Closure Brings Almost Zero Air Travel In EU And Schengen
Since the EU countries closed their external borders on March 17, airports have looked a bit like … [+]
NurPhoto via Getty Images
The travel ban makes the 30 countries off-limits to all but EU citizens, permanent residents and others with essential reasons to travel. Those exempt from the travel ban also include doctors, medical staff, diplomats and cross-border workers, as well as transit passengers.
The EU says the border shutdown has seen air passenger traffic in the bloc reduced almost to zero. The only flights operating are most cargo transport and repatriation. The EU pushed for the unilateral action to contain the virus spread, after many countries initially chose piecemeal border closure.
Meanwhile, Individual Countries Are Prolonging Border Closure
This comes as some EU countries take state action to maintain border closure. The Austrian government has reportedly notified the European Commission “it will extend its internal border controls at land borders with Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Liechtenstein for another 20 days.” That’s until April 27.
So between the EU’s yet to crystalize call, national border enforcement moves, and talk of a possible multi-month Schengen travel ban, things are far from clear for the Euro-traveler.
Some Schengen countries such as Hungary have chosen to close their land borders to causing internal … [+]
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