The EU Council for General Affairs on Tuesday approved recommendations to coordinate measures restricting freedom of movement in the European Union to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our daily lives in many ways. Restrictions on movement have made it difficult for some of our fellow citizens to get to work, to study or to visit their loved ones. This points to our common duty to ensure the coordination of all measures affecting freedom of movement and to provide our fellow citizens with all the information they need when deciding on their movement,” said German State Minister for Europe Michael Roth, the EU Council Presidency.
As explained in Brussels, these recommendations are aimed at eliminating fragmentation in the approaches of member states to this problem. They propose greater transparency and predictability of government actions for citizens and businesses.
The recommendations are based on the principle that “any restrictive measure for free movement to protect public health must be proportionate and non-discriminatory”. In addition, such a measure should be removed as soon as the epidemiological situation permits.
Member States should provide the following data to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) every week: number of reported cases of coronavirus infection per 100,000 population in the last 14 days, number of COVID-19 tests per 100,000 population in the last week, percentage of tests with positive results in the last week.
Based on these data, the ECDC will publish each week a map of the European Union with a breakdown of countries by region to help EU authorities make decisions.
Areas of COVID-19 infection on this map will be marked with the following color code: green, orange and red, each associated with the number of coronavirus infections per 100,000 population and the percentage of positive tests per 100,000 population.
Grey is also introduced for areas with little information or where there is insufficient testing.
The recommendations emphasize that EU member states cannot restrict the free movement of people to or from green areas. When imposing restrictions, the epidemiological difference between red and orange zones must be taken into account in order to apply proportional measures.
As a matter of principle, EU member states should not deny entry to nationals of other EU countries. In cases where the authorities of an EU member state deem it necessary to impose restrictions, they may require visitors from red, orange, grey but not green areas to either go to quarantine or undergo testing on arrival.
However, travelers should be given the opportunity to present a test conducted before their arrival.
EU countries may also require people entering their territory to fill out forms indicating their location. Therefore, it is suggested that a common European form be developed for universal use in the European Union.