The European Council has adopted a recommendation on a coordinated approach to travel restrictions in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The council comprises  the heads of state or government of the countries forming the European Union, as well as the president of the council and of the European Commission.

The recommendation aims to “avoid fragmentation and disruption, and to increase transparency and predictability for citizens and businesses,” it said.

Under the recommendation, every week, member states should provide the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) with the data available on the following criteria: number of newly notified cases per 100,000 population in the last 14 days, number of tests per 100,000 population carried out in the last week (testing rate), percentage of positive tests carried out in the last week (test positivity rate).

Based on this data, the ECDC will publish a weekly map of EU member states, broken down by regions. Areas will be marked in the following colors: green if the 14-day notification rate is lower than 25 and the test positivity rate below 4 percent; orange if the 14-day notification rate is lower than 50 but the test positivity rate is 4 percent or higher or, if the 14-day notification rate is between 25 and150 and the test positivity rate is below 4 percent, and red if the 14-day notification rate is 50 or higher and the test positivity rate is 4% or higher or if the 14-day notification rate is higher than 150.

The ECDC will use grey if there is insufficient information or if the testing rate is lower than 300.

The council noted that member states should not restrict the free movement of persons travelling to or from green areas.

Member states should in principle not refuse entry to persons travelling from other member states. The countries that consider it necessary to introduce restrictions could require persons travelling from non-green areas to undergo a quarantine and/or a test after arrival. Countries may offer the option of replacing the test with a test carried out before arrival.

Member states could also require persons entering their territory to submit passenger locator forms. A common European passenger locator form should be developed for possible common use, the council added.

Countries intending to apply restrictions should inform the affected member state first, as well as other member states and the European Commission. If possible the information should be given 48 hours in advance, the council stated.

Governments should also provide the public with clear, comprehensive and timely information on any restrictions and requirements. As a general rule, this information should be published 24 hours before the measures come into effect.

Photo by Guillaume Périgois on Unsplash.