EU institutions ordered quarantine for staff who travelled to northern Italy

Photo: EPA Central Station, Milan, 25 February.

EU institutions have ordered staff who travelled to areas of northern Italy to stay at home for two weeks, a measure that may be repeated by member states as concerns mount over the epidemic of coronavirus in Europe, news wires reported.

The European Parliament ordered a 14-day quarantine for all its staff who travelled to Lombardy, Piedmont, Emilia-Romagna and Veneto, the industrial and financial heartland of Italy, according to an email sent on Monday evening.

Separately, the European Commission told its staff to stay at home for two weeks only if they had visited over the past 14 days any of 11 designated towns in northern Italy that are considered the epicentre of the outbreak there. The EU executive arm also recommended that its staff avoid travel to Lombardy, a spokesman said on Tuesday.

Under European Union rules, travel restrictions are decided by each of the 27 member states, but the bloc's institutions can issue warnings to their staff. Among member states, only France has so far imposed quarantine measures on people returning from affected areas in northern Italy, according to an EU document. The document, adopted after a meeting of EU health experts on Monday, said several member states were revising their travel advice to Italy.

EU countries can suspend a border-free pact, known as the Schengen agreement, in the event of emergencies. But so far, none have notified the Commission of any such move, a spokeswoman for the EU executive said on Tuesday.


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