Vaccine, test or disease status of a traveler will now be the main criterion for freedom of movement in the European Union in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and no longer the country from which he travels, the competent EU Ministers agreed on Tuesday of the General Affairs Council in Brussels, following the Commission proposal submitted in November to simplify the rules.
The recommendation also states that the map of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) should henceforth be based not only on the rate of notification of cases in the last 14 days and the percentage of tests, but also on vaccination coverage.
The new recommendation also strengthens the emergency brake to address the emergence of new mutations, with the Commission being able to propose coordinated travel restrictions for high-risk areas.
According to the updated Council Recommendation, measures to deal with the pandemic should be implemented taking into account the situation of each individual instead of the situation at regional level. The only exception to this rule will be travel from areas where the virus is prevalent at very high levels.
This means that a decisive factor in whether a person will be subject to restrictions on free movement will be the condition of a traveler being vaccinated, tested or recovered against COVID-19, as recorded on a valid EU digital COVID-19 certificate.
The recommendation shall enter into force on 1 February, at the same time as the delegated act setting the maximum period of validity of the certificate for travel purposes at 270 days (nine months).
In particular, the certificate under the recommendation vaccination is valid if the traveler:
& # 8211; has been vaccinated with the last dose of the vaccine regimen or booster dose at least 14 days in advance but not more than 270 days (Member States may also accept vaccination with preparations approved by the national authorities or the WHO)
& # 8211; has a negative PCR test performed within 72 hours prior to travel, or an antigen test (rapid test) performed 24 hours prior to travel or
& # 8211; has a certificate of illness and recovery which is valid for up to 180 days (six months) after the first positive test.
As noted, a Member State may require non-digitally certified persons to take the test before or at least 24 hours after arrival, with the exception of those traveling for essential services or needs, those traveling across borders and children under 12 years of age. should be exempt from this requirement.
With regard to ECDC maps, Member States are required to implement measures for people traveling to and from areas in the 'deep red' category (where the virus is spreading faster), to discourage unnecessary travel and to request from those who do not have a certificate to take a test before departure and to be quarantined upon arrival.
Some exceptions to these measures should apply to those traveling for essential services or need, those traveling children under the age of 12.
Finally, with regard to the emergency brake to address the emergence of new mutations of concern or interest, when a Member State imposes restrictions in response to the emergence of a new variant in The Council, in close cooperation with the Commission and with the support of the ECDC, should review the situation.
At the same time, the Commission, on the basis of its regular evaluation new evidence for variations, may also suggest a debate in the Council. During the debate the Commission will have the opportunity to propose to the Council to agree on a coordinated approach to travel from the affected areas. The situation will be reviewed regularly.