The Council of the European Union has today approved changes to the recommendation on a coordinated approach on the restriction of free movement within the block amid the Coronavirus pandemic.
The update of the recommendation comes at a time when a large share of EU citizens has been vaccinated, the EU vaccine passport for travel has been rolled out in 13 countries, and the epidemiological situation regarding COVID-19 is improving worldwide.
In a press release of the Council announcing the adoption of the changes, the same urges the Member States to continue strongly discouraging non-essential travel to and from areas in the dark red in epidemiological maps of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
“This should also be the case for areas with a high prevalence of COVID-19 variants of concern or interest and for areas with unknown prevalence due to insufficient sequencing. People travelling from these areas should still be required to be in possession of a negative test certificate and to quarantine/self-isolate,” the press release further notes.
The Member States are also advised to keep in place the requirement of e negative test certificate for arrivals from areas in the red and orange lists of countries.
Those coming from a red area who fail to present such a document can be required to self-isolate until they obtain a negative Coronavirus test result, while those reaching the EU members from orange areas may be obliged to undergo a test upon arrival in their EU destination country.
Exempt from the requirement of testing, no matter from what area they come should be all children under the age of 12.
No Restrictions for Vaccinated Travellers & Those Recovered From COVID-19
The recommendation also tells the Member States to refrain from imposing testing and quarantine requirements to holders of vaccination passports.
“Holders of vaccination certificates issued in line with the EU digital COVID certificate regulation should not be subject to testing or quarantine/self-isolation if they are fully vaccinated with an EMA approved vaccine and at least 14 days have passed since full vaccination,” the Council recommends.
If they chose to, the Member States are free to remove the restrictions after the first dose of a two-dose vaccine or only after both doses have been administered.
Recovery certificates of travellers who have recovered from the Coronavirus will be acceptable only in cases when they have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 180 days. These travellers should be exempt from the requirements of testing and quarantine as well.
New Traffic Light System Criteria
Two more criteria will be taken into account by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) when considering whether to restrict free movement for a particular country or not. These are the vaccination update and the prevalence of COVID-19 variants of concern or interest.
At the same time, the threshold for placing a country in one of the four defined colours of the Traffic Light System has increased, as follows, if the 14-day notification rate is:
- fewer than 50 and the test positivity rate below four per cen
- fewer than 75 and the test positivity rate less than one per cent
- fewer than 50 and the test positivity rate is four per cent or more,
- between 50 and 75 cases, and the test positivity rate is one per cent or more, or
- 75 and 200, and test positivity rate is under four per cent
- between 75 and 200, and the test positivity rate is four per cent or more, or
- between 200 and 500
- more than 500
In cases when the situation related to the Coronavirus rapidly worsens in a country or area, in particular, due to variants of concern, the Member States can trigger an emergency brake and impose stricter restrictions on arrivals from that country.