E.U. Recommends to Members to Remove Region-Based Restrictions

In order to create a more coordinated approach to facilitate safe and free movement during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Council of the European Union is recommending that member states remove their current travel restrictions—which are based on the COVID-19 situation on the traveler’s country of departure—and replace them with restrictions based on the individual traveler’s situation. The goal is the implement the measures from February 1.

“Under the new recommendation, COVID-19 measures should be applied taking into account the status of the person instead of the situation at regional level, with the exception of areas where the virus is circulating at very high levels,” the E.U. Council said in an announcement. “This means that a traveler’s COVID-19 vaccination, test or recovery status, as evidenced by a valid E.U. Digital COVID Certificate, should be the key determinant. A person-based approach will substantially simplify the applicable rules and will provide additional clarity and predictability to travelers.”

In short: Travelers in possession of a valid E.U. Digital COVID Certificate should not be subject to additional restrictions to free movement.

To obtain the certificate, a traveler must have: Received a vaccine approved at European level (member states could also accept vaccination certificates for vaccines approved by national authorities or the World Health Organization), so long as at least 14 days and no more than 270 days have passed since the last dose of the primary vaccination series (or if the person has received a booster dose); a negative PCR test result obtained no more than 72 hours before travel or a negative rapid antigen test obtained no more than 24 hours before travel; or a certificate of recovery indicating that no more than 180 days have passed since the date of the first positive test result.

The Council adds that persons who are not in possession of an E.U. Digital COVID Certificate could be required to undergo a test prior to or no later than 24 hours after arrival. Additionally, travelers with an essential function or need, cross-border commuters and children under 12 should be exempt from this requirement.

It also recommends basing any regional travel restrictions based off the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s traffic light system, which marks countries—based off their 14-day case notification rate, vaccine uptake and testing rate—as either green, yellow, red or dark red. Only countries listed as “dark red” should face additional safety measures; these should discourage non-essential travel and require such travelers who are not in possession of a vaccination or recovery certificate to undergo a test prior to departure and to quarantine after arrival.

For more information, visit www.consilium.europa.eu.

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