Thursday

24th Sep 2020

Coronavirus

EU unveils Covid-19 'colour-code' travel zones

  • The 'traffic light' scheme will have red, green and orange warnings - plus 'grey' zones for those areas with insufficient testing information (Photo: © European Union 2020 - Source : EP)

The European Commission announced on Friday (4 September) recommendations for members states on how to coordinate travel restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, including a 'traffic-light' colour-coding system of affected areas.

The proposal, based on ideas from the German EU presidency, includes common criteria on epidemiological risks, a shared 'colour-coding' of risk areas, as well as a joint approach on returning from high-risk areas.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Until now, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has been publishing these regularly updated maps showing 14-day Covid-19 case-notification rate per 100,000 population

"The past few months have shown we can not take free movement for granted, [but] it is clear that we need more coordination," admitted the commissioner for justice, Didier Reynders.

EU commissioner for health, Stella Kyriakides, said this recommendation aims "to avoid further disruption of already fragile economies and additional uncertainty for citizens".

While member states have been taking mostly unilateral measures since the beginning of the pandemic, the commission's proposal is based on a new "zonal approach" - ideally consisting of member states' internal regional borders.

Firstly, the commission wants EU states to provide to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) with the number of new cases per 100,000 population over 14 days, plus tests carried out per 100,000 people during every seven-day period, and the test-positivity rates.

Then the ECDC will publish a weekly updated map based on a common colour code to "ensure that any decisions taken by the member states are consistent and well-coordinated," according to the commission recommendation.

'Traffic lights' system

Assuming that there is a testing rate of more than 250 per 100,000 people, "green" areas will be those regions that meet the dual tests of an infection rate of less than 25 cases per 100,000, and less than three-percent test-positivity rate.

Meanwhile, "orange" areas will be those with less than 50 cases per 100,000 people and a three-percent positive test rate or more - or between 25 and 150 cases per 100,000 people but less than three percent positive test.

And "red" will be used for those with more than 50 cases per 100,000 people and more than three percent test-positivity rate, or simply more than 150 cases per 100,000 people.

The EU executive also proposes to have "grey" areas when there is insufficient information available to assess the situation or testing is lower than 250 per 100,000 people.

According to the plan, travel restrictions should only apply to red and grey areas - although member states could still require people arriving from an area classified as red, orange or grey to submit passenger location forms, especially for those arriving by plane.

Moreover, member states would be forced to phase out all restrictions applied to all those areas not classified as red or grey seven days after the adoption of this recommendation - which is due by the European Council in the coming weeks.

Inform Brussels first

Meanwhile, EU capitals are expected to inform other member states and the commission before introducing any new restrictions for travellers coming from a red or grey areas - which could be, for example, to undergo a quarantine a test for Covid-19 infection after arrival.

But the commission said EU countries must mutually recognise the results of tests carried out in other member states by certified health bodies.

Additionally, the EU executive warned member states they should not impose any restrictions on people travelling to or from a red area unless they impose the same restrictions on a red area in their own territory.

The commission will update it ReOpen-EU website dedicated to informing citizens about restrictions in place in different EU countries.

MEPs worry over lack of common Covid-19 criteria

MEPs have raised concerns about lack of common Covid 19-related criteria among member states, while the EU virus-alert agency said priority should be given to harmonisation of testing.

Coronavirus exposes lack of common data approach

The enormous differences between coronavirus cases reported worldwide raise questions on how countries are tracking their outbreaks - or even deliberately underreporting them.

Visual Data

Coronavirus: Will a second wave divide Europe again?

Experts are now warning of the "very serious" surge in Covid-19 cases in Europe - where new weekly cases exceede those reported in March. The worst-hit countries are Spain and France - while Italy is resisting the much-feared second wave.

News in Brief

  1. Belgium: masks no longer mandatory from October
  2. Report: China built 380 Muslim internment camps
  3. Belgian government formation in final phase
  4. Lukashenko sworn in at secret ceremony
  5. Study: No-deal Brexit more costly than corona for UK
  6. Polish miners in underground protest against energy plan
  7. EU animal farming emits more CO2 than cars
  8. Navalny leaves Berlin hospital after poisoning attempt

Opinion

Italy has a responsibility, too

Little wonder the leaders of Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden are unwilling to sign off: they're not going to give money so the Italians can fund a tax cut in the middle of an economic crisis.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  3. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID-19 halts the 72nd Session of the Nordic Council in Iceland
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCivil society a key player in integration
  6. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular

Latest News

  1. EU migration pact to deter asylum
  2. 'Era of EU naivety ends', MEP pledges on foreign meddling
  3. Anti-mask protesters pose challenge for EU authorities
  4. EU 'failed' to safeguard civic freedoms during pandemic
  5. The corruption fuelling the Bulgaria protests
  6. EU countries stuck on rule of law-budget link
  7. EU states struggle to better sync Covid-19 measures
  8. EP groups drop homophobe from Sakharov prize

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  2. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  4. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  6. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us