Monday, May 31, 2021

EU Commission Tells Member States to Ease Travel Measures Ahead of Summer

The European Union Commission has unfolded a proposal for the update of the Council Recommendation on the coordination of free movement restrictions in the EU amid the Coronavirus pandemic.

The proposal has been revealed today, May 31, and advises the Member States to gradually facilitate the existing travel restrictions, “as the epidemiological situation is improving and vaccination campaigns are speeding up all over the EU.”

In a press release issued on the recommendation, the Commission proposed the update of the common criteria for the determination of risk areas and to introduce an ‘emergency brake’ mechanism, which will address the prevalence of COVID-19 variants of concern or interest.

Commenting on the recommendation, the EU Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders said that last week, the EU saw a downward trend in infection numbers, which he asserts is a result of the vaccination campaigns across the EU.

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 the Member States to make the best use of this instrument and the recommendation to allow everyone to move freely and safely again,” the Commissioner said.

Whereas the EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides said that as the Freedom of movement is one of EU citizens’ most cherished rights, the block needs a need coordinated and predictable approaches for EU citizens in order to safely move towards the reopening of the society in the weeks ahead.

As vaccination is progressing with increasing speed, we can be confident that safe free movement without restrictions can gradually resume again. Whilst we are looking ahead with more optimism, we need to remain cautious and always put the protection of public health first,” Commissioner Kyriakides said.

Restriction-Free Entry for Vaccinated Travellers & Those Who Have Recovered From COVID-19

The Commission proposes to the Member States to abolish all types of entry restrictions for travellers reaching their territory, including COVID-19 testing, and in particular, the requirement of quarantine.

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,” the Commission advises.

It also proposes that persons who have recovered from the virus in the last 180 days should also be exempt from the requirements of testing and quarantine.

Whereas travellers holding a certificate that proves they have tested negative for COVID-19 should be exempt from the requirement of quarantine. The Commission suggests a standard validity period for tests: 72 hours for PCR tests and, where accepted by a Member State, 48 hours for rapid antigen tests.

Entry restrictions for travellers who have been vaccinated and those who have recovered from the virus may be reintroduced in cases when the country they reside in records a rapid deterioration of the situation or where a high prevalence of variants of concern or interest has been reported

Traffic Light System: No Restrictions for Arrivals From Green Areas

In cases when the Member States impose their own decision-making systems, the Commission advises them to permit arrivals from green areas to enter their territory without any restrictions.

Only pre-departure tests should be required for travellers from orange areas, and quarantine could be imposed on arrivals from red areas unless they have a pre-departure test (rapid antigen or PCR).

As per dark red areas, essential travel should be strongly discouraged, while the requirements of testing and quarantine must remain effective.

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 six should also be exempted from travel-related testing,” the Commission’s proposal notes.

It also advises the Member States to adopt the thresholds of the ECDC map in view of the epidemiological situation and progress on vaccination, which suggest increasing the threshold of 14-day cumulative COVID-19 case notification rate from 50 to 75 for areas in the orange category, and from the current 50-150 to the new 75-150 for red areas.

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