The European Commission has called for a 30-day ban on non-essential journeys into the EU by non-EU citizens in order to curb the spread of coronavirus. 

Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the commission, said the temporary ban was needed to prevent the outbreak spreading inside and outside the bloc. 

She said it would prevent additional pressure on EU healthcare systems and could be renewed after the 30 days. 

The UK is no longer a member of the EU following Brexit on January 31, but Mrs Von der Leyen said the ban would not apply to Britons. 

“The UK citizens are European citizens, so of course there are no restrictions for the UK citizens to travel to the continent,” she added. 

There are other exceptions to the ban, for diplomats, healthcare workers and long-term resident of the EU who do not have EU citizenship. 

The proposal for the ban will need to be unanimously supported by all 27 EU governments. The leaders of those countries will hold a teleconference meeting to discuss the move on Tuesday.

The commission’s move is being read by some as an effort to preserve the EU’s passport-free Schengen Zone, which has come under pressure from the coronavirus outbreak. 

Germany, Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Poland and Lithuania  have all reintroduced border controls in the zone in a bid to halt the spread of the virus.

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