Unrestricted travel for vaccinated people. Within the EU and for those who come from abroad with approved vaccines, such as the United States. This is what the European Commission is asking countries through a communication, for which the COVID-19 certificate is a fundamental tool. This Monday Brussels has sent a communication to the Member States in which it proposes that they ease the current restrictions on non-essential travel to the EU, in accordance with the progress of vaccination campaigns and the evolution of the epidemiological situation around the world .
Thus, the European Commission proposes allowing entry to the EU for non-essential reasons not only for all people from countries with a good epidemiological situation, but also for all people who have received the last recommended dose of a vaccine authorized by the EU.RELATED
This could be extended to vaccines that have completed the WHO emergency use listing process.
In addition, the Community Executive proposes to raise, in accordance with the evolution of the epidemiological situation in the EU, the threshold related to the number of new cases of COVID-19 used to determine a list of countries from which all travel should be allowed. .
“At the same time, the emergence of worrying variants of the coronavirus calls for continued vigilance,” says Brussels: “The Commission is therefore proposing a new ’emergency brake’ mechanism, which will be coordinated at EU level and which would limit the risk of such variants entering the EU. This will allow Member States to act quickly and temporarily limit all travel from affected countries to a minimum for the time necessary to implement appropriate sanitary measures. “
In this sense, what the European Commission proposes is that they lift the restrictions on non-essential travel for vaccinated people traveling to the EU, “in accordance with the latest scientific advice that shows that vaccination helps considerably to break the chain of transmission”.
“Member States must allow travel to the EU for those who have received, at least 14 days before arrival, the last recommended dose of a vaccine that has received marketing authorization in the EU,” says Brussels: ” Member States could also extend this to those vaccinated with a vaccine who have completed the WHO emergency use listing process. Additionally, if Member States decide to waive the requirements to submit a negative PCR test and / or undergo to quarantine for vaccinated people on their territory, they must also waive such requirements for vaccinated travelers from outside the EU. “
This should be facilitated once the COVID-19 certificate, now under negotiation between the European Parliament and governments, becomes operational. “In particular, travelers must be able to demonstrate their vaccination status with a digital certificate issued by individual Member State authorities, or with another certificate recognized as equivalent by virtue of an adequacy decision of the European Commission.”
Until the certificate is operational, “Member States should be able to accept certificates from non-EU countries based on national legislation, taking into account the ability to verify the authenticity, validity and integrity of the certificate and whether it contains all the relevant data “, says Brussels:” Member States could consider creating a portal allowing travelers to request recognition of a vaccination certificate issued by a non-EU country as reliable proof of vaccination and / or the issuance of a digital green certificate “.
In this sense, children who are excluded from vaccination should be able to travel with their vaccinated parents “if they have a negative PCR test taken at least 72 hours before the arrival area. In these cases, Member States may require additional tests after arrival”.
Non-essential travel, regardless of individual vaccination status, is currently allowed from 7 countries with a good epidemiological situation, a list decided by the Council (the Governments) in accordance with epidemiological criteria contained in the current recommendation.
The European Commission proposes to modify the criteria to take into account the growing evidence of the positive impact of vaccination campaigns. The proposal is to increase the threshold for the cumulative COVID-19 case notification rate in 14 days from 25 to 100. This remains considerably below the current EU average, which is above 420.
“The adapted threshold should allow the Council to expand the list of countries from which non-essential travel is allowed regardless of vaccination status, subject to health-related measures such as testing and / or quarantine. As now, the Council should review this list at least every 2 weeks “, says the Community Executive.
In any case, “those traveling for essential reasons, including, in particular, health professionals, cross-border workers, seasonal agricultural workers, transport personnel and seafarers, passengers in transit, those traveling for reasons Overriding relatives or those who come to study must continue to be able to enter the EU, regardless of whether they are vaccinated or from which country they come, “says Brussels:” The same applies to EU citizens and long-term residents, as well such as family members. Such trips should continue to be subject to health-related measures, such as tests and quarantine as decided by the Member States. “
When the epidemiological situation of a non-EU country deteriorates rapidly and, in particular, if a worrying variant is detected, “a Member State may urgently and temporarily suspend all round-trip trips of non-EU citizens who reside in that country. The only exceptions in this case would be health professionals, transport personnel, diplomats, passengers in transit, those traveling for imperative family reasons, seafarers and people in need of international protection or for other humanitarian reasons. Said travelers must be subject to strict tests and quarantines even if they have been vaccinated, “argues Brussels, although since the borders are the competence of the States, they have been making use of unilateral decisions of border closures since the start of the pandemic.
“When a Member State applies such restrictions, Member States should review the situation together in a coordinated way and in close cooperation with the Commission, and should continue to do so at least every two weeks,” says the European Commission.
It is now up to the Council (the Governments) to consider this proposal. A first debate at the technical level is planned at the Council’s Integrated Political Response to Crisis (IPCR) meeting on May 4, followed by a debate at the EU Ambassadors meeting (Coreper) on May 5 .
If the Council adopts the proposal, it will be up to the Member States to implement the measures set out in the recommendation. The Council should review the list of non-EU countries exempted from the travel restriction in light of the updated criteria and continue to do so every two weeks.