The European Union (EU) wants to make international travel easier. The changed pandemic situation as well as the progressive vaccination successes, must be taken into consideration. This is why the council has updated its recommendations about non-essential travel from third countries. This is mainly in line with a proposal made by the European Comission (EC) on November 25 of the previous year.
Travel regulations within the EU are to be harmonised
Currently, some EU countries allow relatively unrestricted travel from countries outside the EU, whereas others - such as Italy and the Netherlands - do not allow entry from specific non-EU countries or else they impose conditions such as testing or quarantine requirements. The council's recommendation aimed at finding a common line here so that travel rules for non-EU countries are more closely aligned with those that apply within the EU. However, they are not obligatory. Therefore, the following still applies: the applicable regulations of the country of entry should always be checked before travelling to the EU.
On one hand the updated council recommendations
also address the pandemic situation in the third country. In order to lift
restrictions on travellers from certain countries, the 14-day incidence
threshold for COVID-19 cases has been increased from 75 to 100 residents and
the weekly testing rate has been increased from 300 to 600 residents, both per
100,000 residents. This will make inclusion in the regularly updated European
list that identifies those countries for which the temporary restriction on
non-essential travel to the EU is to be lifted easier.
Vaccinated, recovered, tested
On the other hand, reference is made to the individual status of the person concerned. No restrictions should apply if a person has been vaccinated with an EU or WHO recommended vaccine for at least 14 days and no more than 270 days prior to entry. This also applies to people who have received a vaccine produced in India or China. However, they could also face other precautions such as a PCR test or quarantine upon entry.
Anyone with a booster vaccination should
not be subject to restrictions and neither should those who have recovered from
COVID-19 within 180 days prior to travelling to the EU. The same rules should
apply to children between the ages of 6 and 18. If they have not been
vaccinated, then a negative PCR test not older than 72 hours should allow
entry. However, member states might still impose other post-arrival measures
(testing, quarantine, isolation).
Recommendation for EU certificate
The recommendations are only intended to be
transitional. The prospective aim is to move entirely to a person-centred
approach after higher vaccination rates have been realised. The EC actually
wanted to achieve this by March 1 and then abolish the country list. It will
now review the recommendation before April 30. However, countries have been
recommended to use the EU's COVID digital certificate or an equivalent
certificate from a third country. It amended its own travel regulations under a delegated
act on Feb. 22 to allow EU governments to issue recovery certificates in
the EU's COVID digital certificate, which is based on certain rapid antigen
tests instead of a PCR test (see the Common
List of COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Tests for more information).