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2020.08.03 14:50

EU may have to close borders again, Lithuanian president says

BNS2020.08.03 14:50

EU member states may be forced to close their borders again as coronavirus cases surge, Lithuania's president Gitanas Nausėda said on Monday.

The president stressed, however, that any decisions on border closures would have to be taken jointly by EU member states.

Read more: Lithuania updates coronavirus travel list, France and Malta added to blacklist

“The issue of border controls must be the next step and it requires European-level solutions,” Nausėda told reporters in Birštonas, a spa town in south Lithuania.

As EU countries are tightening restrictions to rein in the spread of Covid-19, “it's possible that we'll have to return to this issue” of border closures, he said.

According to the president, the mandatory self-isolation requirement for arrivals from coronavirus-affected countries discourages people from travelling abroad and serves as an indirect border control measure.

“I believe we currently have a well-running mechanism in place,” Nausėda said. “It allows us to add new countries to the list, based on their statistics and infection trends. Some countries are on the brink of being included, too.”

Countries are put on Lithuania's coronavirus blacklist if their Covid-19 infection rates exceed 16 new cases per 100,000 people over the last two weeks.

Poland's rate was 15.7 as of last Friday, meaning that it is likely to be added next Friday.

Many EU member states reintroduced internal border controls at some point this spring. Currently, different countries apply different measures to both returning citizens and arriving foreigners.

France and Malta were added to Lithuania's coronavirus blacklist last Friday amid a surge in new Covid-19 cases, meaning that Lithuanian nationals have to self-isolate for two weeks on their return from the two countries as of Monday.

Foreign travelers are still allowed to come to Lithuania from France, but they are subject to a two-week self-quarantine. Foreign visitors from Malta cannot enter Lithuania.

Currently, no travel restrictions apply to citizens and legal residents of Poland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Slovenia, Liechtenstein, Denmark, Iceland, Germany, Ireland, Cyprus, Slovakia, Italy, Greece, Norway, Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Hungary.

All other foreign travelers are banned from entering Lithuania, apart from certain exceptions.

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