The European Commission has proposed the European Council to discourage non-essential travel between European Union member states amid high Covid-19 infection rates and concerns about new virus variants, while avoiding border closures or blanket prohibitions that would impede the functioning of the internal market and supply chains.

“The Commission proposes that all non-essential travel should be strongly discouraged until the epidemiological situation has considerably improved,” it said. The Commission’s proposal could lead to the European Council, composed of EU heads of state and government, updating its Oct. 13, 2020 non-binding recommendation on coordination of free movement in the European Union.

The Commission proposed revising the code system for the mapping of Covid-19 risk areas in Europe, adding ‘dark red’ to the existing colors of green, orange, red and grey, to indicate areas where the virus is circulating at very high levels. These are defined as areas where the 14-day notification rate is more than 500 per 100,000 people.

It also recommends applying stricter measures for travelers from higher-risk areas. In particular, the Commission suggests EU member states should require people travelling from a ‘dark red’ area to undergo a test prior to arrival and undergo quarantine, as recommended by the EU’s Health Security Committee and already practiced by several EU countries. This would apply even to essential travelers such as health care workers and people travelling for imperative family or business reasons “provided that this does not have a disproportionate impact on the exercise of their essential function or need.”

The Commission stressed EU countries should seek to avoid disruptions to essential travel, to keep transport flows moving and avoid supply chain disruptions. Transport workers, whose exposure to the general public while travelling is generally limited, should not be required to quarantine and in principle be exempted from travel-related tests, it said.