Europe’s coronavirus crisis seen from the sky

Mar 23, 2020

The battle against coronavirus has shuttered European cities and created huge traffic jams on what just a few weeks ago were open borders.

Sometimes the best way to understand a new situation is to step back — in this case way, way back — and get a look at what Europe under coronavirus lockdown looks like from space.

Those images show empty plazas and streets, and also contain practical information that the European Commission is using in an effort to cajole countries into letting traffic flow across closed borders.

The Commission's images — obtained by POLITICO — offer a detailed view of how border closures are impacting logistic supply lines, endangering the flow of food and medical goods within the EU's single market. Such measures have created kilometers of tailbacks along frontiers that, until just a few days ago, had been the world's largest border-free zone.

"We ... used satellite images to show the states what they are doing to themselves by cutting themselves off economically," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told German radio Friday morning.

The satellite images, below, show a traffic jam Thursday at the crossing of Nickelsdorf-Hegyeshalom on the Austrian-Hungarian border, stretching up to 30 kilometers into Austria. Hungary on Tuesday closed its borders to passenger traffic and restricted freight traffic to designated corridors.

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