Baltimore Sun

EU coun­tries adopt travel guide­lines amid pan­demic

- By Sa­muel Pe­tre­quin European Politics · Health Conditions · Politics · Infectious Diseases · European Union · Luxembourg · Beaune · International Air Transport Association · Council of the European Union · Schengen · Airlines for Europe

BRUS­SELS — Euro­pean Union coun­tries have ap­proved a se­ries of guide­lines in­clud­ing a “traf­fic-light” sys­tem aimed at fa­cil­i­tat­ing free move­ment across the bloc and avoid­ing fur­ther travel dis­rup­tion during the coro­n­avirus pan­demic.

During a meet­ing this week in Lux­em­bourg, en­voys for the 27 mem­ber states agreed on a com­mon ap­proach to travel re­stric­tions and test­ing to help cit­i­zens and work­ers get more clar­ity on how they can tran­sit across the con­ti­nent.

In March, sev­eral EU na­tions hastily closed their bor­ders in an at­tempt to stop the spread of the virus, even though the EU’s Schen­gen agree­ment al­lows residents to move freely be­tween coun­tries with­out visas. The ac­tion blocked traf­fic and med­i­cal equip­ment.

“The COVID-19 pan­demic has dis­rupted our daily lives in many ways. Travel re­stric­tions have made it dif­fi­cult for some of our cit­i­zens to get to work, to univer­sity or to visit their loved ones,” said Michael Roth, the Ger­man min­is­ter for Europe. “It is our com­mon duty to en­sure co­or­di­na­tion on any mea­sures which af­fect free move­ment and to give our cit­i­zens all the in­for­ma­tion they need when de­cid­ing on their travel.”

Mem­ber states agreed to pro­vide coro­n­avirus data to the Euro­pean Cen­ter for Dis­ease Pre­ven­tion and Con­trol, which will pub­lish a weekly map sort­ing re­gions ac­cord­ing to the sever­ity of coro­n­avirus out­breaks.

The cri­te­ria used to de­fine the col­ored zones — green, or­ange and red — are the num­ber of newly no­ti­fied cases per 100,000 in the past 14 days as well as the test­ing rate and the test pos­i­tiv­ity rate in the past week.

Mem­ber states agreed that they should not restrict free move­ment of peo­ple trav­el­ing from or to green ar­eas, but na­tional EU govern­ments will con­tinue to set their own re­stric­tions such as quar­an­tines or manda­tory test­ing upon ar­rival for peo­ple com­ing from or­ange or red zones.

A re­gion will be clas­si­fied as green if the 14-day no­ti­fi­ca­tion rate is lower than 25 and the test pos­i­tiv­ity rate be­low 4%. Un­der the cri­te­ria adopted, most EU re­gions would be ei­ther red or or­ange.

“This agree­ment avoids bor­der closures and fa­vors the least pe­nal­iz­ing health con­trol mea­sures, such as test­ing,” said Cle­ment Beaune, the French min­is­ter for Europe. “Last but not least, es­sen­tial move­ments, es­pe­cially those of fron­tier work­ers, will be se­cured.”

Se­verely hit by the coro­n­avirus cri­sis, the avi­a­tion sec­tor was less en­thu­si­as­tic, brand­ing the com­pro­mise a “po­lit­i­cal fail­ure.”

In a state­ment, avi­a­tion bod­ies ACI Europe, Air­lines for Europe and IATA rued that mem­ber states didn’t adopt a com­mon pre-de­par­ture COVID-19 test­ing pro­ce­dure to re­place quar­an­tines for passengers trav­el­ing

from high-risk zones.

“The cur­rent lack of co­or­di­na­tion be­tween mem­ber states has killed the nascent re­cov­ery of travel and tourism, thus jeop­ar­diz­ing mil­lions of jobs as­so­ci­ated with the sec­tor,” they said.

The EU coun­cil said mem­ber states should not deny ac­cess to per­sons trav

el­ing from other EU na­tions and urged them to “re­spect the dif­fer­ences in the epi­demi­o­log­i­cal sit­u­a­tion be­tween or­ange and red ar­eas and act in a pro­por­tion­ate man­ner“if they de­cide to ap­ply re­stric­tions.

EU coun­tries also agreed to pro­vide timely in­for­ma­tion to their neigh­bors about

new re­stric­tions — if pos­si­ble 48 hours in ad­vance — and to de­velop a har­mo­nized pas­sen­ger lo­ca­tor form for all means of trans­port.

The guide­lines are not legally bind­ing as bor­der con­trols and health mat­ters re­main the re­spon­si­bil­ity of na­tional govern­ments.

 ?? JEAN-FRAN­COIS BADIAS/AP ?? A Ger­man po­lice of­fi­cer checks au­tho­riza­tion for a wo­man to en­ter from France.
JEAN-FRAN­COIS BADIAS/AP A Ger­man po­lice of­fi­cer checks au­tho­riza­tion for a wo­man to en­ter from France.

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