Merkel revealed that EU member states had "agreed to impose an entry ban" that provides travel exemptions to nationals of European Free Trade Association countries and Britain, according to the Telegraph.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed during a March 17 news conference that it will be the responsibility of bloc leaders to establish their countries' border closures.
"The enemy is the virus, and now we have to do our utmost to protect our people and to protect our economies," she said, as reported by Reuters. "We are ready to do everything that is required. We will not hesitate to take additional measures as the situation evolves."
Von der Leyen noted that while the UK has not imposed its own external border restrictions, it has advised people against traveling abroad.
Several European countries and cities have imposed their own restrictions and lockdowns in an attempt to quell the spread of the novel coronavirus. On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that, beginning March 17, all citizens should stay in their homes and avoid contact with other persons if possible.
As of this article's publication, there have been nearly 196,000 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide, with a total of 7,866 reported deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering. Of those associated deaths, 2,503 have been reported from Italy, and another 509 individuals have died from the contagious disease in Spain.