The European Union's executive on Monday proposed a 30-day ban on incoming travel for foreigners to the bloc to battle the spread of coronavirus.
"The less travel, the more we can contain the virus. Therefore … I propose to the heads of state and government to introduce temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU," said European Commission chief
Asked if the ban would apply to the UK, Ms von der Leyen said that it would not.
She said: "UK citizens are European citizens so of course there are no restrictions on the UK citizens to travel to the continent."
Ursula von der Leyen added: "These travel restrictions should be in place for an initial period of 30 days, but can be prolonged as necessary."
She said exemptions included long-term EU residents, family members of EU nationals, diplomats, doctors and researchers working on containing the health crisis.
It came as EU officials called for more co-ordination and insisted on the need to keep the 27-nation bloc's internal borders open as much as possible as member states implement measures to slow the spread of coronavirus.
After the surge of Covid-19 cases in Europe led the Italian government to put the country on lockdown, other member states have implemented drastic measures and travel restrictions, including partially closing their borders.
"Our measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak will be effective only if we co-ordinate on the European level," Ms von der Leyen said.
"We have to take exceptional measures to protect the health of our citizens. But let's make sure goods and essential services continue to flow in our internal market. This is the only way to prevent shortages of medical equipment or food."
In a series of guidelines for border management measures, the commission urged member states to facilitate the circulation of workers, to ensure an efficient movement of goods and to impose restrictions only when they are "duly motivated" and science-based.
"Member states should preserve the free circulation of all goods. In particular, they should guarantee the supply chain of essential products such as medicines, medical equipment, essential and perishable food products and livestock," the commission said.
European Council president Charles Michel, who chairs summits of prime ministers and presidents from the 27 EU nations, announced the video conference in a tweet, calling what will be the second meeting of its kind within two weeks.
"Containing the spread of the virus, providing sufficient medical equipment, boosting research and limiting the economic fallout is key," Mr Michel said.
European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control figures released on Monday show that 51,771 coronavirus cases have been reported in Europe, most in Italy, Spain, France and Germany. A total of 2,316 people have died, the overwhelming majority in Italy.
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