Updated: Jul 1
Coronavirus has seen something that I, as a person that lived all his life knowing what the EU is and the beauty of the free trade of goods and people is, the situation we are in is very strange, especially considering what I am advocating for. Some countries are closing down their borders due to Coronavirus or COVID-19.
The list of the European countries that have their borders closed, or, at the very least modified is as follows: Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Italy, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain and Ukraine. Others have also reportedly demonstrated that they fancy the idea of doing the same such as Germany or Portugal.
This is a very serious move that countries all over the world are doing in order to prevent and control the virus that has affected 154 countries at the time of writing, and is predicted to affect many more.
Now one must think about what closing borders does. Well, it is clear as day with the examples we have, that have closed down the borders early in January that it is a must-do to fight this virus. Take the Russian example and compare it to Italy. Italy, a small country, compared to Russia, did not close the borders until very recently and they have more than 20,000 confirmed cases. Russia, one of the biggest countries in the world closed the borders early in January and at the moment they only have 63 cases.
And Russia is not alone in this. Mongolia, a country that is host to 3 million people and its biggest border is with China, closed the borders early and had one case only that was treated. Macau closed its border, just like Russia and defeated the threat, recording 10 cases, and all of which have made a full recovery.
This is clear data that shows us the actions that countries should have taken towards the virus. Isolate it and cure people. Don't get me wrong, the closing of the borders is not forever, and I am very pro-EU's free trade. However, this situation is extraordinary, and it requires solutions that also are extra-ordinary.
The act of closing the boarders down will not solve all the problems that coronavirus presents, and it is even debatable to what extent countries should close their borders at this point in time. Well, in order to protect every citizen from coming in and infecting people of your country, or going out infected and infecting people of a different country is for sure a valid argument that I would present people who’d debate it.
Also do not think that I have not taken my time to think about the problems of closing the borders. I have. The problems will come in different shapes to different countries. But the main issue for European countries is that tourism will decrease. Unfortunately, Europe's days of factories and having products fully assembled here are long gone and this is now a continent where tourism is a key factor to all the countries involved. In some of the European countries’, tourism represents up to 12.7% of some countries GDP.
This dependency on tourism is not healthy, and it is only natural that one day it will drop. Countries that are run like that cannot sustain themselves for too long. When we put them all together as a continent, it is impossible. You can see a more in-depth article about this matter here.
The way I see it is that one of the most important jobs of the leader of each country is to make sure each citizen is safe. I would even go as far as arguing that a president/prime minister that fails to do that is questionable to what extent is he/she really the deserving leader as it is in dereliction of their most basic duties. As stated earlier, closing down the boarders are protecting the citizens from a crisis that we do not want to expand. The decision to do it is an important duty of any country's leader. It is a must. Until this situation is cleared, we must contain ourselves if we want it to be solved.