REUTERS

In March, EU countries agreed to close their external borders to non-EU nationals in a bid to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. The European Commission spearheaded efforts to close the bloc's external borders shortly after the U.S. suspended all travel for European nationals, Deutsche Welle (DW) reported.

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EU officials said frictionless travel within the bloc's internal borders and the visa-free Schengen area would be prioritized over non-essential travel from non-EU countries.

"Restrictions on free movement and internal border controls will need to be lifted gradually before we can remove restrictions at the external borders and guarantee access to the EU for non-EU residents for non-essential travel," said Ylva Johansson, EU Commission for Home Affairs.

"We need a phased and coordinated approach," Johansson added. "Restoring the normal functioning of the Schengen area of free movement is our first objective as soon as the health situation allows it."

Countries across the globe have enacted stringent restrictions on non-essential travel. In Europe, the measures have effectively torpedoed economies across the continent and decimated tourism industries.

Going forward, the European Commission said, "Any further prolongation of the travel restriction beyond June 15, 2020, would need to be assessed again, based on the evolution of the epidemiological situation."