In a press release today, the European Union announced its most recent recommendation on restrictions regarding non-essential travel from third countries.
According to the press release from the Council of EU, this update “responds to the ongoing vaccination campaigns by introducing certain waivers for vaccinated persons and easing the criteria to lift restrictions for third countries. At the same time, it takes into account the possible risks posed by new variants by setting out an emergency brake mechanism to quickly react to the emergence of a variant of interest or concern in a third country”.
In order for restrictions to be lifted, a third country now needs a rate for 75 cases per 100 000 inhabitants, instead of a significantly stricter rate of 25 cases per 100k that it was in place. The document also adds that progress in vaccination “should also be taken into account” and that, in order “to responde to the risk posed by new variants, “the detection in a country of variants of interest should now be considered together with variants of concern”.
There was no change in other criteria previously applied, as the “stable or decreasing trend of new cases”, number of tests, the 4% positivity rate limit, the response to COVID-19 in the third country, the degree of reliability of the information as well as the reciprocity.
Regarding vaccinated visitors, the document states that if proof of vaccination is accepted by member states to avoid restrictions as testing or quarantine, they should also apply this criteria to “third-country travellers who have received the last recommended dose of an EMA approved vaccine at least 14 days before arrival”.
An emergency break mechanism is also proposed, in order to react to a sudden spike of cases in a third country or region, “in particular if a variant of concern or of interest has been detected”. This measure is not applicable to EU citizens, long-term EU residents or certain categories of essential travellers. However, they “must be subject to appropriate testing and quarantine measures, even if fully vaccinated”.
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