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New EU Travel Rules: Member States to Focus More on Traveler’s Health Risk Rather Than Country of Departure

Authorities in the European Union countries are attempting to introduce a new plan to ease the travel process amid the ongoing pandemic that would be more focused on a traveller’s individual health risk instead of the epidemiological situation in their country of departure.

Such a decision has been announced by three European Union diplomats on Thursday, according to Politico, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

According to the update of the rules, passengers who hold a valid COVID-19 vaccination certificate would not be subject to additional testing or self-isolation requirements. However, countries could still introduce additional measures for travellers from territories included in the dark red category, which consists of countries profoundly affected by the Coronavirus, based on the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) data.

ECDC’s map colours reveal the health risk situation in terms of COVID-19, taking into account the infection and testing rates in other countries.

After the proposed changes, the map would also take into account the vaccination rate in other countries.

In this regard, an EU diplomat stressed that the proposed changes to the map are still being discussed.

The new plan follows a Commission proposal made in November last year to take a “person-based approach” to travel within EU countries, meaning that persons who hold a COVID-19 vaccination certificate “should in principle not be subject to additional travel restrictions, wherever they come from in the European Union.”

Since the start of the pandemic, authorities in European countries have taken preventive measures in order to halt the spread of the Coronavirus and its new strains that especially affect travellers from countries considered highly affected by the Coronavirus.

In addition, the spread of the Omicron variant that has become the main variant in many countries has also led governments to tighten their entry rules to prevent another surge in the number of infection cases.

On January 20, the ECDC’s updated map showed that all European Union and Schengen Zone countries are being profoundly affected by the Omicron variant.

The map suggested that the number of infections with the Coronavirus marked a significant increase in the last seven days. The same showed that all EU and Schengen Zone countries belong to the dark-red group, except for some Romanian and Polish regions, meaning that the European continent recorded more than 500 infection cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last two weeks.

At the same time, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium and Czechia have reported the highest rates of COVID-19 infections, based on the data provided by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The new changes would make the travel process easier for people from countries affected by the virus.

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