EU proposes ban on nonessential inbound travelers from abroad for 30 days

Key Points
  • The president of the European Commission proposed banning most foreign visitors into Europe.
  • Individual EU governments would have to approve the travel restrictions.
  • The measure would be among the strictest yet aimed at curtailing the spread of the coronavirus.
Ursula von der Leyen, incoming president of the European Commission, left, speaks during news conference at the European Parliament, in Strasbourg, France, on Tuesday, July 16, 2019.
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The president of the European Commission on Monday proposed a ban on nonessential incoming, foreign travel for a month, the latest drastic measure to cut off the flow of people as the coronavirus spreads around the world.

It would cover 30 countries with the hope that Britain and Ireland also align with the proposal.

If governments take the step it would be among the strictest travel restrictions as countries scramble to stop the spread of the virus, known as COVID-19. The U.S. last week banned most foreigners who have been in 26 European countries from entering the U.S. for 30 days. The Trump administration expanded that to include the U.K. and Ireland overnight Monday.

"We need to more to reduce the huge pressure on our health care system," Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission president, said in a tweeted video message.

Individual EU governments would have to approve the travel restrictions, she said. Diplomats, individuals transporting goods and anyone supporting medical facilities are exempt.

The restrictions that have already been implemented have been devastating to airlines, which are slashing service or in the case of Austrian Airlines, suspending service altogether. Airlines are now asking governments for support.