The European Council on Tuesday adopted updated recommendations on travel to the European Union and on facilitating free movement in the EU during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Under the new recommendations member states should not impose any restrictions on travel on the grounds of public health. However, the recommendations keep a number of safeguards in case of a deteriorating epidemiological situation.
Travel from third countries
According to the recommendations, where necessary to address a severe worsening of the epidemiological situation, member states should decide in a coordinated manner to reintroduce appropriate requirements for travellers prior to departure. These could include vaccination, proof of recovery or testing. Member states could also apply additional measures on arrival such as additional testing or quarantine.
The Council said that when a variant of concern or interest emerges in a third country, member states might exceptionally establish an urgent, common and temporary travel restriction or travel requirements.
“Such a restriction should expire after 21 days unless member states decide to shorten it or extend it for an additional period,” the Council said.
Free movement in the EU
The Council also recommended that if a member state considers free movement restrictions are necessary due to a severe worsening of the epidemiological situation, these restrictions should be limited to requiring travellers to be in possession of a valid EU digital COVID certificate. Persons not holding a certificate could be required to undergo a test prior to or after arrival.
Moreover, the Council informed that for member states to be able to react quickly to new variants, the emergency brake is maintained. In such cases a member state could require travellers to undergo quarantine or testing, even if they hold an EU digital COVID certificate.
It is reminded that to slow down the transmission of the Covid-19 virus, EU leaders agreed on 17 March 2020 on a coordinated temporary restriction of non-essential travel to the EU, which applied until 30 June 2020. Then the Council adopted a recommendation on temporary restrictions on non-essential travel into the EU and the possible lifting of such restrictions. The recommendation was last updated on 22 February 2022.
The Council clarifies that the decision on whether to introduce restrictions on free movement to protect public health remains the responsibility of the member states.