The European Parliament canceled plans to return to Strasbourg next week as a result of the resurgent coronavirus pandemic.
“I regretfully announce that next week’s plenary will not take place in Strasbourg, but will be held remotely,” tweeted Parliament President David Sassoli Thursday, in Italian. “The situation in France and Belgium is very serious. Traveling is dangerous.”
But Sassoli added that “Strasbourg remains the seat of the Parliament and we will do our utmost to return.”
The European Parliament canceled its previous plans to return to Strasbourg in September and early October, after the French city and its surrounding areas were designated coronavirus red zones by authorities. The move prompted anger from French politicians, including President Emmanuel Macron.
Next week’s plenary session will be run remotely “with a revised/reduced agenda and a very limited number of speakers,” according to an internal note sent to MEPs and seen by POLITICO.
A growing number of senior EU figures — including Sassoli himself — have recently been forced to self-quarantine after coming into contact with those who have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Manfred Weber, chairman of the European People’s Party in Parliament, became the latest politician to announce he would be self-isolating, tweeting this morning: “Dear friends, I was informed that I have been in contact with a person who is #COVID19 positive. Following the established rules I am self-isolating while awaiting a first test result. Stay safe everybody.”