CORONAVIRUS has forced countries across Europe to close their borders as Brits camp at airports in a desperate bid to get home.
EU leaders have now agreed to shut down the bloc’s external borders as well as those between member countries for 30 days in response to the pandemic.
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The virus case count in Europe has climbed to over 50,000, with more than 2,000 people dead.
Panicking governments across the continent are now closing their borders and putting their countries on lockdown to try to stop the spread.
Spain, France, Germany and Bulgaria have now all blocked travel even with countries in the free-moving Schengen zone.
Border guards were seen locking off crossings between Spain and France, Portugal and Spain, and Switzerland and France.
And seven countries – including Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland – have now told the EU they have reintroduced ID checks inside Europe’s passport-free Schengen Area.
The measures have sparked travel chaos for thousands of Brits who are now desperately trying to get home.
Spain announced it would close its borders at midnight last night, prompting tourists and expats to flock to airports in their droves.
Charity worker Brigit Chattwell, 49, was one of the Brit tourists who cut short their holidays as the government introduced a 15-day state of emergency.
Brigit, who lives near Royston, Herts, said: “I checked before I flew out to Spain and everyone was saying it was going to be fine.
“Things snowballed very quickly and the following evening I realised I needed to start thinking about getting out early.
“There was nothing available with Jet2 or Tui or Ryanair but I eventually managed to get a BA flight to Heathrow via Madrid which cost me 600 euros even though I had flown out of Stansted.”
France’s announcement last night that the country was going into full lockdown also sparked a mass exodus.
Huge queues were building up at railway and coach stations before draconian new measures came into force at midday today.
Many headed to Gare de Nord station in Paris, where high-speed trains were still running to London.
“The restrictions are just going to get tougher over here, and that’s the reason I’m leaving,” said a 58-year-old British businessman who asked to be referred to by his first name of Tony.
EU leaders are this week expected to endorse a 30-day travel ban on people wanting to come to Europe for tourism or non-essential business.
Long-term EU residents, diplomats and members of European families would be exempt. Health care and transport workers could escape the ban too.
Separately, so-called green lanes would be set up at the internal borders of the 26 Schengen countries, allowing fast-track access for trucks ferrying essential supplies to defy the traffic jams that have begun forming at some crossing points.
Asked Monday whether Europe can ever return to real ID-check free travel after this, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said: “I hope so. But it’s been shown that coordination didn’t work well everywhere the way one would have hoped.”