Pre-departure COVID-19 testing may soon become obligatory throughout the Member States for travellers heading to their territory, including those vaccinated and those who have recovered from the virus.
The measure has been discussed amongst Health Ministers of the Member States today, December 8, and comes in a bid of the EU countries to prevent the further spread of the Omicron virus variant further in the block, as well as halt the increase of overall COVID-19 cases.
According to Reuters, during today’s meeting, the Dutch Health Minister Hugo de Jonge was the one pushing the most for the requirement of negative test results to become mandatory throughout the whole EU for travel.
“In addition, those not vaccinated or recovered should also be quarantined,” Minister de Jonge said throughout the meeting.
The Netherlands already imposes a requirement of COVID-19 negative test results for everyone aged 12 and older travelling to or returning to the Netherlands from outside the EU/Schengen or a COVID-19 risk area within the EU/Schengen. Exempt from the requirement are very few categories, as those vaccinated and recovered persons travelling within the EU.
Present at the meeting was also the French Minister of Health Olivier Veran, who, aside from the pre-entry testing obligation for third-country travellers, also proposed for the same requirement to be imposed on EU travellers. The proposal was rejected by many.
France is also amongst the Member States imposing a pre-departure testing obligation on travellers from third countries. The measure was imposed on December 4 for all non-EU travellers over the age of 12. The test must be taken within 48 hours before arrival at a French port of entry.
The move has been harshly criticized by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which claims it is against the EU guidance, suggesting that France should lead a common EU approach that would help to preserve travel connectivity.
The pre-entry testing obligation has been imposed by several other EU and Schengen Area countries amid the spread of the new Coronavirus variant, now named Omicron, which was first detected in South Africa at the end of November.
While travellers who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, and the ones who have recovered from the virus, can present proof of either PCR negative test results taken within 72 hours upon arrival or a negative result taken of an antigen test taken within 48 hours of arrival, the conditions are a bit tighter for the rest.