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EU countries agree 'traffic light' system of international Covid-19 travel restrictions

The new guidelines were agreed at a meeting in Luxembourg today.

Image: Shutterstock/Cuson

EU MEMBER STATES have agreed to a new ‘traffic light’ system to co-ordinate international Covid-19 travel restrictions across the continent.

Ministers from the 27 countries agreed the new guidelines at a meeting in Luxembourg today, putting in place a common mapping system to define areas within the EU deemed at different levels of risk from the virus.

Under the plan, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control will publish a weekly map of the EU using a three-stage colour system to indicate the level of risk in each area.

Levels will be determined by a variety of epidemiological factors including the 14-day incidence per 100,000 population and the level of positive tests.

A fourth colour, grey, will be allocated to areas with not enough data.

Travellers coming from a red, orange or grey zones could be required to quarantine or take a test for Covid-19 when arriving into a country, while those coming from a green zone would not face any measures.

EU countries would not be able to refuse entry to people coming from other member states – as Hungary is currently doing, with exceptions for Czechs, Poles and Slovaks.

The plans also include exceptions for people doing “essential” work as well as a common contact tracing form for travellers. However, the new recommendations are not binding on member states.

The move could supplement Ireland’s so-called Green List, announced in July, which provides a list of countries people can travel to and from without the advice to restrict their movements for 14 days afterwards. 

However, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said last month that the proposal was still “a bit up in the air” at the time.

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He said that when EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen first suggested the idea, a ‘green light’ would be given to countries that had a virus “incidence of 25 per 100,000 over 14 days, and a positivity rate of less than 2%.

Currently, no countries have a 14-day incidence of 25 or lower per 100,000 population.

France welcomed the decision, but Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn, who abstained in the vote, said the text of the agreement was not yet at a finished state.

In a statement, Ryanair welcomed the new system and called on Transport Minister Eamon Ryan to fully adopt it to allow greater levels of air travel to and from Ireland to resume.

With reporting from © AFP 2020.

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