Next week’s plenary session will instead be held in the Belgian capital, Brussels. The closure comes after the British government said it would not close the Houses of Parliament. Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg made the announcement on Thursday.
European Parliament President David Sassoli said: “On the basis of an updated report from the European Parliament’s Medical Service on the evolution of Covid-19, next week’s plenary session will exceptionally be held in Brussels due to force majeure.”
And Belgian MEP Assita Kanko tweeted: “Next week we are not going to Strasbourg because of Covid-19 coronavirus. Plenary in Brussels.”
Daniel Koster, spokesman for the European Parliament’s Economy and Environment Working Group shared a screenshot of Mr Sassoli’s message to colleagues.
In the email sent at 7.51pm local time (6.51pm British time) he said the planned meeting in Strasbourg “would involve significantly higher health risks for members and staff” than previous thought.
Mr Sassoli wrote: “According to updated advice I received from Parliament’s Medical Service at 6pm today, the situation related to the spread of the infectious disease caused by the novel coronavirus Covid-19 has evolved over the last few days and hours.
“In particular, new infection clusters have been confirmed and case numbers are rising in a number of regions across the European Union.
“My decision of March 2 2020 in relation to Covid-19 remains in force and applicable.
“I count on each and every one of you to act responsibly, as you have so far.”
On Monday the European Parliament suspended visitor access to its buildings in Brussels and Strasbourg in a bid to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
The decision was also taken by bosses to cancel 130 events.
The “non-core” gatherings were due to attract between 6,000 and 7,000 people.
Mr Sassoli said the measures would remain in place for the next week weeks at least.
But he stressed that parliamentary work would continue as normal.
According to theparliamentmagazine.eu, an internal document said that there was “a need to protect the health of MEPs, staff and others visiting the Parliament.”
Such action has not been taken in the past for such a period of time.