“…We want a clear ‘green, orange, red’ system and not a kaleidoscope of individual measures” – Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson
The European Commission on Friday adopted a proposal for a council recommendation to ensure that any measures taken by member states that restrict free movement due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic are coordinated and clearly communicated at the EU level.
“Our priority is to ensure that Europeans can travel freely in EU while limiting the spread of COVID-19. With various restrictions, it is now hard to know where we can travel & how. Today we propose to make it clearer, easier and safer, with a common colour code and set of measures,” the Commission’s president, Ursula von der Leyen, said.
The Commission’s proposal sets out four key areas where Member States should work closer together: common criteria and thresholds for travel restrictions; an agreed colour code; common measures for travellers from high-risk areas; and clear and timely information to the public about any restrictions.
“For the many citizens who rely on frictionless travel every day, the cacophony of national rules in the EU is overwhelming. We want to simplify things,” Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, said.
The Commission’s proposal will be discussed by the European Council with the aim of an adoption in the coming weeks.
Commission’s 4 key areas
The Commission is proposing that each Member State takes into account the following criteria when putting in place any restrictive measures:
– The total number of newly notified COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in a given area in a 14-day period;
– The percentage of positive tests from all COVID-19 tests carried out in given area during a seven-day period;
– The number of COVID-19 tests carried out per 100,000 people in a given area during a seven-day period.
Member States should provide this data on a weekly basis to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Member States should also provide this data at the regional level to ensure that any measures can be targeted to those regions where they are strictly necessary.
On the basis that the Member State of departure has a weekly testing rate of more than 250 per 100,000 people, the Commission is proposing that Member States should not restrict free movement of people travelling from another Member State where:
– The total number of newly notified COVID-19 cases in a given area is equal to less than 50 per 100,000 people during a 14-day period, OR,
– The percentage of positive tests from all COVID-19 tests in a given area is less than 3%.
A common colour code
The Commission proposes that the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control publishes a map of EU and EEA countries, updated weekly with data provided by Member States, with a common colour code to support travellers:
– Green for an area where the total number of newly notified COVID-19 cases is less than 25 during a 14-day period AND the percentage of positive tests from all COVID-19 tests is less than 3%;
– Orange for an area where the total number of newly notified COVID-19 cases is less than 50 during a 14-day period BUT the percentage of positive tests from all COVID-19 tests is 3% or more OR the total number of newly notified COVID-19 cases is between 25 and 150 BUT the percentage of positive tests from all COVID-19 tests is less than 3%;
– Red for an area where the total number of newly notified COVID-19 cases is more than 50 during a 14-day period AND the percentage of positive tests from all COVID-19 tests is 3% or more OR the total number of newly notified COVID-19 cases is more than 150 per 100 000 people during a 14-day period;
– Grey if there is insufficient information available to assess the criteria proposed by the Commission OR the number of COVID-19 tests carried out per 100 000 people is less than 250.
A common approach for travellers from high-risk areas
The Commission proposes a common approach amongst Member States when dealing with travellers coming from ‘high-risk’ zones. Member States should not refuse the entry of persons travelling from other Member States. Member States that introduce restrictions to free movement based on their own decision-making processes, could require:
– persons travelling from an area classified as ‘red’ or ‘grey’ to either undergo 14-days of quarantine OR undergo a COVID-19 test after arrival – COVID-19 testing being the preferred option;
Where justified, Member States could consider recommending that persons travelling from an area classified as ‘orange’ undergo at least a COVID-19 test prior to departure or upon arrival. Member States could require persons arriving from an area classified as ‘red’, ‘orange’ or ‘grey’ to submit passenger locator forms, notably those arriving by airplane, in accordance with data protection requirements. Travellers with an essential function or need – such as workers exercising critical occupations, frontier and posted workers, students or journalists performing their duties – should not be required to undergo quarantine.
Clear and timely information to the public
The Commission proposes that Member States provide details of upcoming restrictions to free movement or the lifting of travel restrictions to Member States and the Commission on a weekly basis. Changes should be notified a week before entering into force.
Information should also be made available on the ‘Re-open EU‘ web platform, with a link to the weekly-published map by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
Citizens and businesses need predictability. Member States must make all efforts to minimise the social and economic impact of travel restrictions. This should include the provision of information to the public in in a clear, comprehensive and timely manner.
“Since March, the Commission has developed and delivered a solid foundation of internal and external border control recommendations for Member States to follow. Today’s measures builds on this track record so that we can fully benefit from our Schengen area. That is why we want a clear ‘green, orange, red’ system and not a kaleidoscope of individual measures,” Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, said.