The EU will introduce new travel restrictions from 1 February! The EU COVID digital certificate will play a key role!

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Here it is WHO's request to waive the current travel restrictions does not go unanswered by the European Union. Thus, from 1 February, Member States of the European Union are advised to remove the current restrictions, which are based on the situation of COVID-19 in the country of departure of the passenger, and to replace them with restrictions depending on the situation of the traveler.

On Tuesday, 25 January, the EU Council adopted a new recommendation in another attempt to facilitate safe free movement, which instructs Member States to consider the status of the passenger, rather than the epidemiological situation in his or her country of departure.

" This means that the vaccination, testing or recovery status of a passenger against COVID-19, as evidenced by a valid EU digital certificate, should be the key determinant. A person-based approach will substantially simplify the applicable rules and provide additional clarity and predictability to travelers. ", Notes the European Council in a press release announcing the new recommendations.

The recommendation enters into force on Tuesday, 1 February, the same day that Member States shorten the validity of vaccination certificates to a maximum of 270 days, while some countries are prepared to shorten them even further.

According to the European Council decision, all restrictions on free movement should be lifted for passengers holding an EU COVID digital certificate proving that the passenger has been vaccinated with at least two COVID-19 vaccines in the last 270 days, a COVID recovery certificate. -19 issued in the last 180 days, or a negative result of a test performed in the last 72 hours if it is PCR or the last 24 hours if it is a rapid antigen test.

Those who do not have an EU COVID digital certificate will need to be tested for COVID-19 24 hours before or after arrival. Children under the age of 12 are exempt, as well as those with a function or essential need and cross-border commuters.

Commenting on the recommendation, Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides and Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said it reaffirmed that holding a valid EU digital certificate for COVID should be sufficient when traveling during a pandemic.

  • If you have a valid EU COVID digital certificate, you should not, in principle, be subject to additional restrictions.
  • If you do not yet have a valid EU COVID digital certificate, you should be allowed to travel, provided you take the test before or after arrival.
  • The vaccination certificate issued for the primary vaccination schedule will be valid for 270 days.
  • If you are traveling from a "dark red" area and do not have a vaccination or recovery certificate, you may be required to be tested before departure and to have a ten-day quarantine upon arrival, which may be negative test after the fifth day.
  • Any measure that restricts your free movement must be proportionate. In principle, you should not be denied entry.

"This agreement places the EU's digital COVID certificate in a dominant position and is at the heart of our coordinated approach. It is important that Member States follow this agreement and implement the agreed rules without delaySaid the commissioner.

While, according to her, it is up to the Member States to apply the recommendation according to their COVID-19 situation. They need to discontinue the additional travel measures that have made travel more difficult and less predictable in recent weeks due to the proliferation of the Omicron variant.

Despite the individual approach, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) will continue to update weekly maps showing the risk of infection, based on 14-day vaccine use, test rate and notification rate for each country.

"Based on this map, Member States should apply measures to travel to and from dark red areas, where the virus circulates at very high levels. In particular, they should discourage all non-essential travel and require persons arriving in those areas who do not hold a vaccination or recovery certificate to be tested before departure and to be quarantined upon arrival. ", Notes the Council.

Due to the lower severity of the Omicron variant, a large number of Member States have recently eased travel restrictions by removing testing obligations and shortening quarantine periods, despite the spread of Omicron.

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