The European Parliament is closed for coronavirus. And its causing chaos.
A day after President David Sassoli announced a set of new measures to stop the spread of the pathogen, the last-minute ban on access to the Parliament building in Brussels for visitors prompted disruption and confusion.
On Tuesday morning, lines of visitors were waiting outside the main Altiero Spinelli entrance, while the bars of the nearby Place du Luxembourg filled up with people who had discovered that the public events at the Parliament they planned to attend had been called off.
Security officials banned access to groups of journalists — even though they were not included in Sassolis restrictions — and slowed down the lines by handing over declarations that people entering the building had to sign. The document stated that the person had not visited China, Hong Kong, Iran, certain parts of Italy, Japan, Singapore and South Korea in the past 14 days.
One Spanish group opted for an optimistic approach to the cancellation. “Well, were in Brussels and at least it isnt raining. Lets get some breakfast,” one of them told POLITICO.
The European Parliament has announced that it will limit access to visitors for three weeks | Leon Neal/Getty Images
As part of measures to try and stop the spread of the virus, Sassoli announced at a press conference on Monday that any visit or event planned “in the next three weeks,” including “visits of all MEPs organized in the Parliament, personal visits or of accredited assistants” as well as any seminar or cultural exhibition held on the Parliaments premises will “not take place.”
The measures to be implemented include denying “access to the buildings of the European Parliament” to people who have visited affected areas in the past 14 days after their return. Committee hearings and election observation delegations are also suspended.
Journalists were allowed to enter the Parliament, unless they had travelled to affected areas. But security guards gave different instructions as to where to go to obtain temporary accreditation, leading to more delay and confusion.
Even if many said they understood the need for precautionary measures, the move prompted some officials and MEPs to complain that important events had been canceled at such short notice.
“While I understand the reasons, this just means a lot of events being canceled or shifted to other locations last minute today, including my own,” said Dita Charanzová, a Czech MEP from Renew Europe. “But I wonder if it will be effective. I can already see all the bars at Place Luxembourg packed with MEPs and their visitors.” Charanzová had to cancel two meetings this week on artificial intelligence and cancer.
The Emergency Response Coordination Centre in Brussels | John Thys/AFP via Getty Images
One Portuguese MEP sent an email to Sassoli to ask him why all visitors were banned, except for climate activist Greta Thunberg. “I would like to hear the considered reasonsRead More – Source