The EU is banning the “non-essential” entry of all foreign nationals, in the most dramatic crackdown yet to try to curb the continent’s coronavirus pandemic.

Only residents, family members and essential staff – healthcare workers and medical experts – will be exempt from the measures, to be imposed for 30 days initially.

Brussels has also announced plans to set up fast “green lanes” on major roads, to give priority to the transport of medical goods, food and the emergency services.

Announcing the radical steps, Ursula von de Leyen, the European Commission president, said they were necessary to slowdown the spread of the outbreak.

“We need to do more to reduce huge pressure on our healthcare system,” she said.

“We know that everything that reduces social interaction also reduces the spread of the virus. The less travel, the more we can contain the virus.”