(SOUNDBITE) (English) EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT, URSULA VON DER LEYEN, SAYING:
"The enemy is the virus and now we have to do our utmost to protect our people and to protect our economies."
European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen confirmed on Tuesday that the EU would be closing off its external borders to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Hours later, Berlin woke up to seemingly sleepy streets - as German cities closed bars, clubs, cinemas, theaters - and even brothels.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the borders would be shut with immediate effect a s other nations, such as France followed suit. Bringing in stringent restrictions on people's movement.
Italy’s prime minister says the coronavirus crisis - centered now in Europe - is causing a "socio-economic tsunami" and that no nation would go untouched.
As the EU scrambled to find a coherent response to the outbreak, many nation states imposed their own border checks in what is normally a zone of control-free travel.
Portugal and Spain have introduced controls on Europe's internal borders, bringing the total number of countries taking such measures to at least 12.
Chaos has ensued at border controls across parts of the continent as people try to cross.
Spain set up police checks at its land borders with France on Tuesday as they turned back foreigners attempting to enter.
The government reported more than 500 fatalities on Wednesday (March 18), making Spain Europe's second hardest-hit country after Italy.
At Hungary's border with Austria, the queue reached a length of 20 kilometers as Romanians, Bulgarian and Hungarian vehicles waited in line to travel home.
Three Baltic countries - Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia - criticized Poland for blocking their citizens in transit from returning home.
The Czech government has also shut its borders. Prime Minister Andrej Babis ordered people to wear masks or use something else to cover their mouths and noses in public from midnight Wednesday, tightening restrictions to halt the spread of coronavirus.