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EU to stop non-citizens entering Europe under German emergency travel plans

Major study finds UK infection rate has not fallen during lockdown

The EU is looking at banning overseas arrivals to keep out mutant strains of the virus. AP
The EU is looking at banning overseas arrivals to keep out mutant strains of the virus. AP

Overseas residents face a ban on entering the EU under a German plan to keep out mutant strains of coronavirus.

EU member states are free to impose temporary bans on entry and on passengers entering from non-EU countries with virus variant areas, according to a draft proposal.

The proposal comes as a major study shows the spread of coronavirus in England may have risen since the start of the latest lockdown.

Random swab tests suggest one in every 63 people had Covid-19 between January 6 and January 15.

Researchers said the infection rate may have levelled out but is still not falling despite the restrictions.

The German proposal suggests that the UK and other non-members would need to satisfy the EU that the spread of the new variant was under control.

“Only if member states take joint and co-ordinated action can the virus be contained effectively,” the proposal, obtained by The Times, said.

“We see an urgent need to act to prevent or at least slow down the spread of worrying virus variants to and within the EU area.”

The proposal suggests that Germany is keen to keep open supply chains from the UK after a French ban last year caused chaos.

“In all these efforts, essential supply chains and the integrity of the internal market, in particular of the cross-border transport of goods and supplies, have to be guaranteed,” it said.

New strains of the virus first found in the UK, South Africa and Brazil are more infectious. EPA
New strains of the virus first found in the UK, South Africa and Brazil are more infectious. EPA

The EU border could stay shut to British travellers until the vaccination programme drives down transmission.

In the past few days the government reported a slowdown in daily cases.

Prof Paul Elliot from Imperial College London said data – based on tests from 143,000 people across England – was more reliable because they did not solely test people who showed Covid-19 symptoms.

“We’ve found [the infection rate] levelled off – the R value is around 1 – but we are at a position that the levels are high and not falling during this lockdown,” he told BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson disagreed, telling Sky News: “The evidence we’ve been seeing is it is having an impact on relieving pressure on the NHS.”

The UK reported another record high for daily coronavirus deaths on Wednesday. A total of 1,820 people died, according to government figures, taking the number of deaths to 93,290.

In pictures coronavirus in the UK

Updated: January 21, 2021 01:45 PM

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