Unvaccinated EU Nationals to Face Harsher Travel Restrictions From January 10, 2022

Unveiling a recommendation to update the rules on coordination of safe and free movement in the EU amid COVID-19, the EU Commission has also proposed to change the way countries are categorised under the traffic light map from January 10, 2022.

The map, which is published weekly by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), currently only takes into account the number of COVID-19 cases, testing and death rates. The Commission now wants the ECDC to update the maps while taking into account the effects of increased vaccination.

Taking into account the progress in terms of vaccine uptake, the Commission proposes to adopt the criteria and thresholds used for the traffic light map. The criterion of new cases should be weighted by the vaccine uptake in the same region, to take into account that vaccination reduces the risk of transmitting COVID-19,” the Commission notes in its proposal while adding that the testing rate should constitute the third criterion.

If the proposal is applied to the way the ECDC categorises the level of risk in the countries in the EU, then some countries, like Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia, will remain in the dark red category for a very long time, regardless of the COVID-19 cases rates in their territories, until they manage to vaccinate a larger share of the population to get vaccinated.

Up until now, the EU countries with the lowest rates of fully vaccinated population:

  • Bulgaria 24.8 per cent
  • Romania 37.3 per cent
  • Slovakia 45.8 per cent
  • Croatia 46.8 per cent
  • Poland 53.7 per cent
  • Slovenia 54.3 per cent
  • Hungary 59.1 per cent

This means that travellers from these countries who haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19 and who haven’t recovered from COVID-19 either will be subject to more entry restrictions starting from January, in comparison to those vaccinated against COVID-19 and those who have recovered from the virus.

The Commission recommends maintaining the colours of the current map, ‘green’, ‘orange’, ‘red’ and ‘dark red’. Thus, travel to countries with lower vaccination rates will also be discouraged for EU citizens.

Through the same recommendation, the EU Commission has proposed to make COVID-19 vaccination certificates valid for only nine months instead of for a period of 12 months. It has also proposed to include third doses in the COVID-19 Digital Vaccine Certificates, adding that a certificate must be issued after the administration of each dose.

On the same day, on November 25, the EU Commission has suggested that the Member States open their borders for fully vaccinated non-EU travellers with one of the vaccines approved by the World Health Organization (WHO). So far, the majority of EU countries permit entry only for those vaccinated with one of the vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which are Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Janssen.

>> France Recognises 5 COVID-19 Vaccines for Travel

>> Italy: COVID-19 Vaccines Recognised for Travel

>> Norway Recognises Only EMA-Approved Vaccines for Travel

>> Germany Permits Entry for Travellers Jabbed With 5 COVID-19 Vaccines, Including Covishield

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