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Updated travel measures in the EU

On 20 May 2021 the European Parliament and the Council agreed to establish the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EU Certificate) for travelling free across the EU. If the vaccination accelerates and the health situation becomes much better, the European Commission proposes to the Member States that they should gradually ease travel restriction measures.

The European Commission has recommended to update the common criteria. 14 days after having received the last jab, the fully vaccinated person who holds the EU Certificate should be exempted from testing or quarantine. During the first 180 days after a positive PCR test, the recovered person with EU Certificate should be also exempted from testing or quarantine. In line with the EU Certificate, the person with a negative test certificate should be exempted from quarantine criteria. The European Commission proposes a standard 72 hours PCR and a 48 hours rapid antigen test validity period. The proposal introduces an ‘emergency brake' mechanism to address the prevalence of new variants. If the epidemiological situation goes wrong quickly or a variant of concern or interest has been detected, Member States should re-introduce some travel restriction measures. Emergency brake should not apply to EU citizens, long-term EU residents and certain categories of essential travellers. At least every two weeks, such restrictions need to be reviewed.

The Council updates the recommendation on the temporary restriction on non-essential travel from third countries. Member States can decide whether they apply restrictions for travellers coming from green areas, but in case of travellers from orange areas, Member States have the possibility to require a pre-departure rapid antigen or PCR test. The provision is stricter for travellers coming from red or dark red areas. Unless the travellers coming from red areas have pre-departure test, Member States could require quarantine. For travellers from dark red areas, non-essential travel should be strongly discouraged, testing and quarantine requirements are remaining. The provision takes into account family unity, since children travelling with parents should be exempted from quarantine when the parents do not need quarantine, and children under 6 should also be exempted from testing.

If Member States accept the proof of vaccination, they should lift travel restrictions on non-essential travel for the third-country travellers who have received the last dose of a European Medicines Agency approved vaccine or a vaccine which is on the WHO emergency use list at least 14 days before arrival. The EU Certificate regulation will provide the basis for treating third country vaccination certificates equivalent to EU Certificate.