The EU Council today adopted a Recommendation on a coordinated approach to restrictions on free movement in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The aim of this recommendation is to avoid fragmentation and increase transparency and predictability for citizens and businesses.
The Council Recommendation is not a legally binding instrument. The authorities of the Member States remain responsible for implementing the content of the recommendation.
I would also like to mention that third countries are not covered by this Recommendation, ie that the recommendation is valid only for EU member states.
Each week, Member States should provide the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) with available data according to the following criteria:
– number of new cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days
– number of tests per 100,000 inhabitants conducted last week (testing rate)
– percentage of positive tests conducted in the last week (test positivity rate)
Based on this data, the ECDC should publish a weekly map of EU Member States, broken down by region, to support Member States in making decisions. Areas should be marked with the following colors:
– green if the notification rate in 14 days is lower than 25 and the test positivity rate is below 4%
– orange if the 14-day notification rate is less than 50 but the test positivity rate is 4% or higher or, if the 14-day notification rate is between 25 and 150 and the test positivity rate is below 4%
– red if the 14-day notification rate is 50 or higher and the test positivity rate is 4% or higher or if the 14-day notification rate is greater than 150
– gray if there is insufficient data or if the test rate is lower than 300
Member States should not restrict the free movement of persons traveling to or from green countries.
If they are considering whether to apply restrictions, they should respect the differences in the epidemiological situation between the orange and red areas and act proportionately. They should also take into account the epidemiological situation on their territory.
Member States should in principle not refuse entry to persons traveling from other Member States. Member States which consider it necessary to impose restrictions may require persons traveling from non-green areas to:
– subject to quarantine
– undergo a test upon arrival
Member States may offer the possibility of replacing this test with a pre-arrival test.
Member States may also require persons entering their territory to submit passenger tracing forms. A common European form for finding passengers for possible joint use should be developed.
Member States intending to apply the restrictions should first inform the affected Member State, before entering into force, as well as the other Member States and the Commission. If possible, information should be provided 48 hours in advance.
Member States should also provide the public with clear, comprehensive and timely information on all restrictions and requirements. As a rule, this information should be published 24 hours before the entry into force of the measure.
The decision as to whether restrictions on free movement will be introduced to protect public health remains the responsibility of the Member States; however, coordination on this topic is essential. Since March 2020, the Commission has adopted a series of guidelines and communications aimed at supporting Member States’ efforts to coordinate and protect free movement within the EU. Discussions on this topic also took place within the Council.