Police from the state of Saarland check vehicles crossing the border from Luxembourg into Germany on 17 March 2020
Photo: Matic Zorman/archives
People travelling between EU member states can expect more clarity on travel restrictions after EU ministers signed an agreement for a common map.
Produced by the European Centre for Disease Control, the map uses colour coding to indicate which countries are considered as risk zones and might require travellers to undergo further covid-19 screening.
Announcing the measure on Tuesday, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen called on member states to update the data with accurate information on a weekly basis.
The agreement, which was signed by ministers on Tuesday, follows a proposal submitted by the Commission on 4 September 2020.
“We welcome this agreement to bring more order to a currently confusing situation. The coming together of Member States sends a strong signal to citizens and is a clear example of the EU acting where it absolutely should. We have learned our lessons: we will not surmount the crisis by unilaterally closing borders, but by working together,” the president said.
A traffic light colour-code
Whereas up until now it was up to each EU member state to determine whether a particular country or region would be considered a risk zone or not, leaving many travellers confused and frustrated, the new standardized system is supposed to offer some clarity regarding quarantine rules and risk zones.
By using a traffic light colour-code, regions and countries will be classified into red, orange and green zones based on the risk level determined by the number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants over a period of 14 days as well as the rate of positive tests.
Accordingly, countries will be classified as follows:
Green – low risk: the number of new infections within a 14-day period below 25 per 100,000 inhabitants and positive test rate below 4%
Orange – medium risk: the number of new infections within a 14-day period below 50 per 100,000 inhabitants but a positive test rate above 4% or number of new infections within a 14-day period between 25 and 150 per 100,000 inhabitants but positive test rate below 4%
Red – high risk: the number of new infections within a 14-day period 50 or more per 100,000 inhabitants and positive test rate at 4% or above or number of new infections above 150 per 100,000 inhabitants
Additionally, a fourth colour, grey, will be introduced for countries without sufficient data or with a testing rate below 300 per 100,000 inhabitants.
However, although member states have reached an agreement that travellers coming from a green zone will not be subject to any restrictions, no standardised measures have been put in place regarding those coming from a red or orange zone.
Von der Leyen appealed to leaders to ensure citizens have clear and timely information about restrictions in force and steps required. Under the agreement, information should be published 24 hours before measures come into effect.
Member states agreed on the mutual recognition of test results and the president said work would continue to better coordinate testing and quarantine requirements.
Until the map is made available, travellers can find information on freedom of movement on Re-Open EU