Coronavirus lockdown: How borders around the world have been shut by Covid-19

EU member states have joined countries across the world in closing their borders as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread.

French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed that Europe’s borders will close to non-EU residents for a period of 30 days, starting from 12pm today. The measure was implemented by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leye.

It comes shortly after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose wife recently tested positive for coronavirus, announced that Canada would also be partially closing their borders on Monday.

Covid-19 first broke out in Wuhan, China, at the end of December and has so-far killed more than 7,000 people globally. Around 180,000 people have been infected by the virus.

Here is a rundown of the latest measures taken by countries around the world and the Foreign Office’s guidance.

North America


Trudeau has announced that the country will be partially closing its borders to all non-Canadian citizens in a bid to stop the spread of Covid-19.

US citizens are exempt from the measure, along with permanent residents, immediate family of Canadian citizens, diplomats and aircrew.

Speaking from outside his home, Trudeau said: ‘We assured you that as the situation evolved, our response would evolve too as the virus continues it spread.

‘We’ve decided to take increasingly aggressive steps to keep you and your family safe. All Canadians as much as possible should stay home.’

The US

President Donald Trump added the UK and Ireland to an existing ban on European travel to the US on March 14.

Returning US citizens and legal residents are exempt from the measures, which will be in place for a period of 30 days. The Foreign Office has advised against all but essential travel to the US.

Central and South America

South and Central America have ramped up measures to contain Covid-19, with Argentina, Peru, Panama and Honduras among those who have announced border closures.

The Foreign Office advises against all but essential travel to Argentina, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay and Peru for UK nationals, as there is a risk of being placed into quarantine and becoming stranded due to the restrictions.

Europe and the EU

All ‘non-essential travel’ to 31 European countries is banned, including both EU and non-EU members which are part of the Schengen passport-free travel zone. The restrictions will be in place for 30 days.

EU citizens, their family members, long-term residents, workers and diplomats will be exempt from the measure.

Mrs von der Leyen said the restrictions were driven by a need to ‘do more to reduce the huge pressure on our healthcare system’, as she spoke in a video posted online on Monday.

Also exempt from the measures are freight drivers, so that the flow of ‘essential items’, including medicine, food and factory components, can continue.

The FCO has advised against all but essential travel to Austria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Malta, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, parts of Portugal, Albania, Kosovo and San Marino, citing reasons including travel restrictions and flight cancellations, the risk of being placed into quarantine and the risk of contracting the virus.

Else-where, many individual states and non-member nations have taken matters into their own hands.


President Macron has already announced some of the most strident measures in Europe, including the closure of all non-essential businesses such as shops, cafes, restaurants and cinemas and ski resorts, as well as schools, nurseries and universities.

From today, citizens are banned from making journeys that not ‘absolutely necessary’ for a period of 15 days. Macron warned that any French citizens flouting the ban could face ‘sanctions’ during a 20-minute televised address.

He said: ‘Even while medics were warning about the gravity of the situation, we saw people get together in the parks, busy markets and restaurants and bars that did not respect the order to close.

‘We are at a war: A health war. We fight not against an army, or against another nation, but the enemy is there – it advances and that requires national mobilisation.’


Italy has undoubtedly been the hardest-hit European nation so far with more than 1,800 deaths, causing the FCO to advise against all but essential travel to the country, including Sicily and Sardinia.

The nation has been in lockdown for some time, with Italian authorities also advising against travel for tourism purposes. Tourists already on holiday in the country have been told to limit their movements as much as possible while returning to their place of home.

Anyone showing symptoms of coronavirus in Italy who refuses to self-isolate could face 21 years in prison on charges of attempted murder.


A state of emergency was introduced in Spain on March 14, banning public gatherings and temporarily closing all non-essential business.

The Foreign Office advises against all but essential travel to the country.


Everyone arriving in Greece from abroad was required to self-isolate for 14 days as of Monday. The government has also prohibited the docking of cruise ships and sail boats in Greek ports.

All cafes, bars and restaurants have been ordered to close, along with shopping centres, cinemas and theatres as well as the majority of leisure and sporting activities. Supermarkets, bakeries, pharmacies and takeaway food services continue to operate.


A state of emergency was declared in the country on Sunday. All hotels and tourist accommodation have been instructed to close by Saturday until April 30.

The FCO has advised against all but essential travel to Cyprus and is urging people to follow the advice of the Cypriot authorities, including leaving their tourist accommodation by March 21.


Danish authorities announced they would be closing the borders for a month in response to the pandemic. Foreign nationals who ‘do not have a recognised purpose for entering Denmark’ will be barred from entry.


The FCO advises against all but essential travel to Poland. Non-Polish nationals will only be able to enter the country if they are a spouse or child of a Polish national, hold a Pole’s Card, or otherwise have the right to stay or work in the country.


The Slovenian government announced the cancellation of air traffic from 11.59pm on Monday, leaving those travelling to the country at risk of becoming stranded.

The Slovenian border with Austria remains open for UK nationals, but the FCO has warned there will be no direct flights between Austria and the UK from midnight on Monday and has advised against all but essential travel.


The Hungarian government has announced a state of emergency and has closed its borders to all foreigners, with only Hungarian citizens permitted to enter. British nationals are advised against all but essential travel to the whole country.


The Norwegian authorities have said that all non-resident visitors arriving from countries other than Finland and Sweden would be asked to leave Norway on arrival. The FCO advises against all but essential travel.

British nationals legally resident in Norway will be allowed to enter the country but must enter self-quarantine for 14 days. Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) and Norwegian Airlines have announced they will be cancelling 80% of their flights from Monday.


Serbia has temporarily banned entry for foreigners. The country’s own citizens and those with a temporary or permanent residence permit are still allowed to enter.

All international arrivals who have permission to enter will be required to self-isolate for at least 14 days, while those arriving from Italy, Romania, Spain, Germany, France, Austria, Slovenia and Greece must self-isolate for 28 days.

The FCO advises against all but essential travel to the country, and asks those wishing to leave to make arrangements to do so as soon as possible


The Russian government announced it will restrict entry into the whole country for almost all foreign citizens from Wednesday until May 1, with a small number of exceptions. Russian nationals, airline professionals, and diplomats are all exempt from the restrictions.


The Foreign Office advises against all but essential travel to the South Korean cities of Daegu, Cheongdo and Gyeongsan, which have been designated ‘special care zones’ by authorities due to outbreaks, as well as to Burma, Mongolia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam.

Travellers to these countries face becoming stranded due to travel restrictions, being placed in quarantine or of potentially catching the virus.


The FCO advises against all travel to Hubei province due to the outbreak, and against all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China. Any British citizens in China and able to leave should do so.


The FCO advises against all travel to two parts of the country close to Mount Agung and Mount Sinabung craters due to ongoing volcanic activity.

The department advises against all but essential travel to the rest of the country due to a 14-day quarantine requirement.


Liberia, Malawi, Morocco and Sierra Leone are considering travel restrictions and enforced quarantine on travellers from high-risk countries such as the UK, prompting the FCO to advise against all but essential travel to those countries.


The FCO advises against all but essential travel to Kenya after authorities there announced measures restricting people, other than Kenyan citizens and resident permit holders, from going if they have travelled through countries affected by coronavirus, including the UK. The restrictions will come into effect from Tuesday.

South Africa

The FCO advises against all but essential travel to South Africa following restrictions announced limiting who can enter the country.

Authorities said travellers from high-risk countries, including the UK and US, would not be permitted to enter the country from March 18. Visitors who have entered the country since mid-February are required to present themselves for testing.


Flights to and from Egypt will be suspended from midday on Thursday until March 31, and the FCO has advised against all but essential travel to the region. Those already in the country are advised to immediately arrange their departure.


All international flights from and to Tunisia are suspended from Wednesday and the FCO is urging those still in the country to contact their airline or tour operator and arrange to leave as soon as possible.


New Zealand

Arrivals from China and Iran will not be allowed to enter the country. Other arrivals will need to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival, the department said.


The government announced that all persons including its own citizens arriving from abroad would be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

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