VILNIUS - The worsening coronavirus situation in Europe may force the bloc's member states to consider closing their borders again, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said on Monday
The president stressed, however, that any decisions on border closures would have to be taken jointly by EU member states.
"The issue of border controls must be the next step and it requires European-level solutions," Nauseda told reporters in the spa town of Birstonas.
"We see the tightening of the internal regime in many EU countries. It's possible that we'll have to return to this issue (border closure)," he said.
According to the president, the mandatory self-isolation requirement for arrivals from certain countries currently functions an indirect border control measure as it discourages people from travelling abroad.
"There are direct and indirect border controls. Self-quarantine makes one much less keen to travel across the border," Nauseda said. "I believe we currently have a well-running mechanism in place for applying the quarantine instrument."
"It allows us to add new countries to the list, based on their statistics and infection trends. Some countries are on the brink of being included, too," he added.
Countries are put on Lithuania's coronavirus "blacklist" if their COVID-19 infection rates exceed 16 new cases per 100,000 people over the last two weeks.
Poland had 15.7 cases per 100,000 as of last Friday, meaning that the neighboring country is likely to be added next Friday.
Many EU member states reintroduced internal border controls at some point in the spring. Currently, different countries apply different measures to both returning citizens and arriving foreigners.
France and Malta were added to the coronavirus "blacklist" last Friday amid a surge in new COVID-19 cases, meaning that Lithuanian nationals have to self-isolate for two weeks on their return from the two countries as of Monday.
Foreign travelers are still allowed to come to Lithuania from France, but they are subject to a two-way isolation period, too. Foreign visitors from Malta cannot enter Lithuania, apart from certain exceptions.
Currently, no entry restrictions apply to foreign arrivals from Poland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Slovenia, Liechtenstein, Denmark, Iceland, Germany, Ireland, Cyprus, Slovakia, Italy, Greece, Norway, Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Hungary.
All other foreign travelers are banned from entering Lithuania, apart from certain exceptions.