The European Council adopted this week a Commission proposal for updated recommendations on measures affecting non-essential travel into the EU from third countries in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Under the new rules, member states should take the following epidemiological criteria into account to determine the countries for which the restriction on non-essential travel into the EU should be lifted: no more than 25 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the last 14 days; a stable or decreasing trend of new cases over this period in comparison to the previous 14 days; more than 300 tests per 100,000 inhabitants in the previous seven days; no more than 4 percent positive tests among all tests carried out in the previous seven days; the presence of virus variants.
The regulations also take into consideration the country’s overall Covid-19 response, including level of surveillance, contact tracing, containment, treatment, reporting, reliability of available information and data, and if needed, the total average score across all dimensions for International Health Regulations (IHR).
Reciprocity should continue to be taken into account on a case by case basis, according to the revised set of rules.
Additionally, in cases where the epidemiological situation deteriorates quickly or where a high incidence of variants is detected, travel restrictions for non-essential travel may be rapidly reintroduced. Member states can also limit temporarily the categories of essential travelers however travel justified by compeling reasons should still remain possible.
With regard to travelers, EU states should require persons traveling for any essential or non-essential reason, with the exception of transport and frontier workers, to have a negative PCR test taken at the earliest 72 hours before departure.
Countries may also require self-isolation, quarantine and contact tracing for a period of up to 14 days, as well as further testing.
Quarantine and additional testing upon or after arrival should be imposed in particular to those travelers arriving from a third country where a variant has been detected.
With regard to essential travel, according to the revised regulations, EU states may decide to coordinate and waive some of the above measures.
Aim to prevent reintroduction of internal border controls
It should be mentioned that the European Council on Monday agreed to establish the color “dark red” to its traffic light system, which shows the Covid-19 risk levels across its regions, as an additional measure to discourage all but essential travel within and to its member states.