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EU: Fully Vaccinated Should Be Exempt from Covid-19 Travel Restrictions

Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice. Photo source: @dreynders

Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice. Photo source: @dreynders

The European Commission on Monday proposed for fully vaccinated persons holding vaccination certificates and children under 6 to be exempt from travel-related testing and quarantine.

The proposals were included in the Commission’s proposed update to the Council Recommendation on the coordination of free movement restrictions in the EU, which were put in place in response to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

“As the epidemiological situation is improving and vaccination campaigns are speeding up all over the EU, the Commission is proposing that Member States gradually ease travel measures, including most importantly for the holders of the EU Digital COVID Certificate,” the Commission said.

Photo @ European Union 2021 - Source : EP

More specifically, the Commission has proposed the following:

  • Fully vaccinated persons holding vaccination certificates in line with the EU Digital COVID Certificate should be exempted from travel-related testing or quarantine 14 days after having received the last dose. This should also cover recovered persons having received a single dose of a 2-dose vaccine. Where Member States accept proof of vaccination in order to waive restrictions to free movement also in other situations, for example after the first dose in a 2-dose series, they should also accept, under the same conditions, vaccination certificates for a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Recovered persons, holding certificates in line with the EU Digital COVID Certificate should be exempted from travel-related testing or quarantine during the first 180 days after a positive PCR test.
  • Persons with a valid test certificate in line with the EU Digital COVID Certificate should be exempted from possible quarantine requirements. The Commission proposes a standard validity period for tests: 72 hours for PCR tests and, where accepted by a Member State, 48 hours for rapid antigen tests.
  • ‘Emergency brake’: Member States should re-introduce travel measures for vaccinated and recovered persons if the epidemiological situation deteriorates rapidly or where a high prevalence of variants of concern or interest has been reported.
  • Clarification and simplification of requirements, where imposed by Member States based on their own decision-making processes:
    • Travellers from green areas: no restrictions
    • Travellers from orange areas: Member States could require a pre-departure test (rapid antigen or PCR).
    • Travellers from red areas: Member States could require travellers to undergo quarantine, unless they have a pre-departure test (rapid antigen or PCR).
    • Travellers from dark red areas: non-essential travel should be strongly discouraged. Requirement of testing and quarantine remain.
  • To ensure family unity, minors travelling with parents should be exempted from quarantine when the parents do not need to undergo quarantine, for example due to vaccination. Children under 6 should also be exempted from travel-related testing.
  • The Commission proposes to adapt the thresholds of the ECDC map in view of the epidemiological situation and progress on vaccination. For the areas marked in orange the proposal is to increase the threshold of 14-day cumulative COVID-19 case notification rate from 50 to 75. Similarly, for the red areas the proposal is to adjust the threshold range from current 50-150 to the new 75-150.

“Today, we are proposing that Member States coordinate this gradual lifting of free movement restrictions, taking into account our new common tool: the EU Digital COVID Certificate. We now expect Member States to make best use of this instrument and the recommendation to allow everyone to move freely and safely again,” Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice, said.

On her part, Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety said that we can be confident that safe free movement without restrictions can gradually resume again, as vaccination is progressing with increasing speed.

“Whilst we are looking ahead with more optimism, we need to remain cautious and always put the protection of public health first,” Kyriakides said.

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