Lenarcic: No ‘direct’ scenario for Schengen’s suspension due to coronavirus

There is no direct scenario for Schengen’s suspension due to coronavirus, Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič told EURACTIV.com.

“There are, however, various contingency plans that will need to be activated or have already been. Instead of Schengen suspension, the EU is rather focusing on supporting response and preparedness especially in its member states,” he emphasised, adding that now it’s the time for Europe to “act as a Union”.

Following the coronavirus outbreak that started in China and hit European soil with 229 cases in Italy resulting in six deaths, France decided to take preventive measures on Monday (24 February). In Rome, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte mulls limiting the powers of regions’ governors while in Athens, the government has come up with ten different contingency plans.

PARIS. With school holidays coming to an end in some parts of France, the country’s education ministry has requested that students returning from China, Singapore, South Korea and Lombardy and Veneto stay at home, resulting in school officials asking parents to keep some children home for 14 days.

On top of that, the match between Juventus and Lyon scheduled for 26 February faces possible cancellation, while the Nice Carnival and the Lemon Festival in Menton, not far from the Italian border, will also be closely monitored.

ROME. In order to face the novel coronavirus outbreak, Italy’s government can limit the powers of regions’ governors, taking extraordinary measures. “At the moment, however, the situation doesn’t require it,” said PM Giuseppe Conte.

For Lombardy’s region governor Attilio Fontana, the idea of stripping power from regions is “inadmissible and, in some ways, offensive.” However, Conte says that the regional-based national healthcare system was not intended to face such an emergency, and that concerted effort is needed to stop the spread of the virus.

ATHENS. Over ten different contingency plans for the spread of coronavirus in the country are ready for implementation by the General Secretariat for Civil Protection. Each of them is based on separate scenarios regarding the incidence area and rate of proliferation.

The “nightmare” scenario, where the pandemic spreads in one of the two biggest cities – Athens and Thessaloniki – provides for the activation of the police and the armed forces, measures to block traffic on large building blocks as well as shutting down the metro.

(EURACTIV.fr, Sarantis Michalopoulos, Gerardo Fortuna | EURACTIV.com)

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