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EU travel ban exemption for ‘essential’ researchers

Proposed restrictions on travel into the EU would not apply to those working on Covid-19

Researchers working on the Covid-19 pandemic are to be exempt from a 30-day ban on travel into or out of the EU proposed by European Commission president Ursula Von der Leyen.

The 30-day ban on non-essential travel proposed on 16 March does not apply to EU citizens returning home, and will need to be agreed by all member states.

“Essential staff such as doctors, nurses, researchers and experts who help address the coronavirus should continue to be allowed in the EU,” von der Leyen said in a video statement following an emergency video meeting with G7 leaders on responding to Covid-19.

The measure has to be agreed by member states but this looks likely to happen at a 17 March video conference of the European Council. The ban will not restrict travel from the UK to the EU, nor from the four non-EU states in the Schengen area–Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.

But the EU seems set to begin sealing itself off temporarily from the rest of the world. In a televised address on 16 March French president Emmanuel Macron said “as of tomorrow noon, external borders of the European Union and the Schengen area will be closed.”