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Jan. 21, 2021, 4:03 p.m. EST

As virus variants keep spreading, EU governments consider stringent new travel bans

By Pierre Briançon

European Union leaders are meeting on Thursday in a video summit to discuss ways to restrict travel into the region, as new, aggressive variants of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 threaten to overwhelm many countries’ health care systems.

Read: Biden likely to tighten COVID travel restrictions from these countries

The outlook: EU governments already have some latitude to regulate their borders, including banning non-EU citizens from entry for health or security reasons on a temporary basis. The real question is whether the 27 member states can agree on a modicum of coordination of their COVID-19 pandemic travel policies.

But anxiety is mounting, as policy makers fear that they will lose the race against the virus’ new forms if their vaccination campaigns don’t pick up steam. These are currently hindered by logistical bottlenecks and threatened with industrial shortages.

Read: Europe greets Biden’s inauguration with relief and muted hopes

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