Europe extends lockdown

The European Union has sealed its external borders, in a desperate effort to slow the coronavirus pandemic. For the next 30 days, mainly only returning permanent residents of EU countries (and citizens of the UK) will be able to enter the EU and the Schengen zone. However, visitors with an essential reason to travel (doctors and diplomats, for instance) are exempt from the ban, as are cross-border workers, and passengers in transit. Movement within the bloc’s borders remains allowed, though restrictions are in place in some countries. Across Europe, governments brought in new measures to fight the virus this week. Italy, which had more than 31,500 cases by Wednesday, remained in a state of lockdown. Spain, the second worst affected country in Europe, with 13,000 cases, extended an initial 15-day state of emergency. The army has been deployed to enforce a strict curfew, which has turned major cities into ghost towns, and the government has taken control of the private medical sector. Ireland, which had 300 cases by mid-week, brought in laws giving the authorities the power to close mass gatherings, and to have infected patients detained if they refuse to self-isolate. As of Wednesday, the only European country not to have mandated school closures was Belarus.