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Proposal to update coordinated travel measures in the EU

Proposal to update coordinated travel measures in the EU
31 May 2021

Today, the Commission has proposed an update to the Council Recommendation on the coordination of free movement restrictions in the EU. As the epidemiological situation is improving and vaccination campaigns are speeding up, the Commission is proposing that Member States gradually ease travel measures, particularly for the holders of the EU Digital COVID Certificate.

Main updates to the common approach to travel measures inside the EU:

  • 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. This should also cover recovered persons having received a single dose of a 2-dose vaccine. Where Member States accept proof of vaccination in order to waive restrictions to free movement also in other situations, for example after the first dose in a 2-dose series, they should also accept, under the same conditions, vaccination certificates for a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Recovered persons, holding certificates in line with the EU Digital COVID Certificate should be exempted from travel-related testing or quarantine during the first 180 days after a positive PCR test.
  • Persons with a valid test certificate in line with the EU Digital COVID Certificate should be exempted from possible quarantine requirements. The Commission proposes a standard validity period for tests: 72 hours for PCR tests and, where accepted by a Member State, 48 hours for rapid antigen tests.
  • ‘Emergency brake': Member States should re-introduce travel measures for vaccinated and recovered persons if the epidemiological situation deteriorates rapidly or where a high prevalence of variants of concern or interest has been reported.
  • Clarification and simplification of requirements, where imposed by Member States based on their own decision-making processes:
    • Travellers from green areas: no restrictions
    • Travellers from orange areas: Member States could require a pre-departure test (rapid antigen or PCR).
    • Travellers from red areas: Member States could require travellers to undergo quarantine unless they have a pre-departure test (rapid antigen or PCR).
    • Travellers from dark red areas: non-essential travel should be strongly discouraged. Requirement of testing and quarantine remain.
  • 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 6 should also be exempted from travel-related testing.
  • The Commission proposes to adapt the thresholds of the ECDC map in view of the epidemiological situation and progress on vaccination. For the areas marked in orange, the proposal is to increase the threshold of 14-day cumulative COVID-19 case notification rate from 50 to 75. Similarly, for the red areas, the proposal is to adjust the threshold range from the current 50-150 to the new 75-150.

Moreover, the Commission calls for continuing efforts to ensure a smooth rollout of the EU Digital COVID Certificate. For this reason, Member States should take advantage of existing possibilities under national law to start issuing EU Digital COVID Certificates already before their official entry into application on 1 July. Where national law provides for the verification of COVID-19 certificates, holders of the Certificate could already make use of it when travelling. The Commission will, therefore, launch the central part of the EU Digital COVID Certificate, the EU gateway storing the public keys needed for the verification of an EU Digital COVID Certificate, on 1 June. Because no personal data is exchanged via the EU gateway, Member States could already make use of its functionality.

Image © European Commission, 2021

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