EU executive asked to set guidelines on Britain travel curbs

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Geneva

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union governments on Monday called on the European Commission to urgently draw up guidelines to coordinate the bloc's approach to travel restrictions on Britain.

A number of countries closed their borders to Britain on Monday over fears of a highly infectious new coronavirus strain, causing travel chaos.

Within the 27-member European Union, those measures range from a 24-hour travel ban in Belgium to one extending to Jan. 1 in the Netherlands and a ban on goods vehicles in France.

Representatives from the EU member states convened for a video conference on Monday and supported the idea of a coordinated EU approach, an EU diplomat said. They subsequently asked the European Commission to come up with common guidelines.

The EU members also stressed the importance of keeping borders open within the Schengen Area, the group of 26 countries who have abolished controls on borders with each other.

"Another important issue for member states is the question of repatriating citizens and legal residents wishing to return from the UK," the diplomat said.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Angus MacSwan)