March 17, 2020 / 7:36 PM / 15 days ago

EU agrees to close external borders, but fast tracks for goods

FILE PHOTO: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen holds a news conference after the G7 call, in Brussels, Belgium, March 16, 2020. Reuters/Johanna Geron

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union leaders agreed on Tuesday to close Europe’s borders for 30 days to prevent the spread of coronavirus but establish fast-track lanes at their countries’ frontiers to keep goods moving, bloc leaders said after a video-conference summit.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told a news conference that it would be up to European countries to implement the closure of their borders to citizens from third countries.

“The enemy is the virus and now we have to do our utmost to protect our people and to protect our economies,” she said. “We are ready to do everything that is required. We will not hesitate to take additional measures as the situation evolves.”

Reporting by Marine Strauss; Writing by John Chalmers

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