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The European Commission discourages general travel bans and border closures in the EU

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Frightened by the new coronavirus strains, authorities in several EU countries have announced extreme measures in the hope of limiting their spread.

Angela Merkel announced that Germany plans to block international flights and prohibit non-essential travel. Sweden forbids access to those who want to travel from Norway, Great Britain or Denmark.

In this context, the European Commission is discouraging general travel bans and border closures in the EU. The European executive states that "it is necessary to strongly discourage non-essential travel but also to avoid the closure of borders or general travel bans and to ensure the uninterrupted functioning of the single market and supply chains", according to a press release issued by Digi24.

The European Commission discourages non-essential travel

Given the new variants of coronavirus and the large number of new infections in many Member States, non-essential travel needs to be strongly discouraged. But to avoid closing borders or general travel bans and to ensure the uninterrupted functioning of the single market and supply chains. 

Therefore, further specific actions are needed to ensure a coordinated approach to measures to restrict free movement within the EU, ”the statement said.

The Commission is proposing further coordination in two areas where Member States have already agreed to work together:

  • an update of the agreed color code for marking risk areas;
  • stricter measures applied to travelers from higher risk areas.

An update to the common color code

In addition to the existing colors - green, orange, red and gray - the Commission proposes to add the color "dark red" to indicate areas where the virus is circulating at a very high level. This color would apply to an area where the 14-day notification rate is more than 500 per 100 inhabitants.

The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) will continue to publish updated versions of the map based on data provided by Member States.

Stricter measures applied to travelers from higher risk areas

In accordance with the Commission Communication of 19 January, which sets out the actions needed to avoid a third wave, the European Commission proposes that all non-essential journeys be severely discouraged until the epidemiological situation improves considerably.

This applies in particular to travel to and from "dark red" areas. In doing so, Member States should ensure consistency with the measures they apply for travel within their territory.

Member States should require travelers coming from a "dark red" area:

  • to take a test before arrival;
  • to be subject to the quarantine recommended by the Health Security Committee and currently practiced by several Member States.

It should be noted that, following a meeting, Member States unanimously agreed, in a written procedure, to a Council Recommendation establishing a common framework for the use of rapid antigen testing and the mutual recognition of COVID-19 test results in full. the territory of the EU.

The maintenance of essential travel and the supply chain is encouraged

Member States should also try to avoid disrupting essential journeys, in particular by maintaining transport flows in accordance with the 'green corridors' system and by avoiding supply chain disruptions.

Given the increased risk, essential travelers - such as medical staff or people traveling for imperative family or business reasons - returning from "dark red" areas should also be tested and quarantined, provided that this should not have a disproportionate impact on the performance of their essential function or needs.

In addition to the updates proposed by the Commission today on intra-EU travel, the Commission has also adopted a proposal to update the Council Recommendation on EU travel from non-EU countries ", but that's another story.

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