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Europe suspends Schengen

Europe is now the epicenter of the Coronavirus pandemic. To date, Italy has been the most infected in the EU area and the second largest eruption of cases after China. For this reason, various measures were taken by European governments, including the closure of borders and the strengthening of border control.

Published: March 19, 2020, 8:37 am

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    The first government to announce the first measures aimed at closing the border crossings with Italy was Austria. On March 10, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz decreed the closure of the borders announcing the establishment of health checks at Brenner Pass. The example of Austria was followed by Slovenia only a few hours later. The government of Ljubljana on Wednesday March 11, established controls along the border crossings and raising some barriers in the most strategic points of the border.

    Important measures have also been taken by Switzerland, which since March 14 has only allowed cross-border and truck drivers to transport their goods to their own territory. A measure, that the Bern government implemented when the number of infected people began to escalate. At the moment, however, the borders with France remain open. Air and naval connections with various EU countries have been suspended however.

    In Eastern Europe, several countries have decided, already after the first days, to start closing the various borders with neighboring countries. Poland and the Czech Republic were the first to do so. The respective governments earlier this March sanctioned the free transit of people within their territories.

    The same decision was then made by Slovakia and Hungary. Magyar Prime Minister Viktor Orban in particular, it opted for hard line border control, also canceling the departure of the Giro d’Italia scheduled for Budapest in early May. Also in Eastern Europe, but outside the EU, Serbia and Albania have introduced strict border controls.

    On the other hand, among the EU countries that have not adopted these measures, is Romania. In northern Europe, on the other hand, Denmark officially declared all its borders closed on March 14. Stricter controls were announced in other Scandinavian countries.

    On Sunday, the Berlin government also decided to close borders. The regions concerned, Baden-Württemberg, Saarland and Rhineland-Palatinate, ultimately opted for the closure of the borders with France, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Denmark. But until a few days before, Germany had said it was against any hypothesis of closing the borders.

    It was the sudden increase of people infected within German territory that changed their minds. In a matter of days, in fact, the number of those who tested positive for Covid-19 exceeded the psychological threshold of 1 000 cases, alerting all the highest authorities and consequently pushing towards increasingly drastic measures to contain the epidemic.

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