EU leaders ‘strongly discourage’ travel

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EU discouraging travel between member states

MADRID – The EU is working on a new ‘corona map’ with dark red added to the colour system. Spain is currently turning red and dark red. That would mean non-essential travel to and from Spain should be strongly discouraged.

Following a four hour video conference with the EU’s government leaders, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stated on Thursday that the situation in Europe was now “very serious”. New variants and an increase in infections are affecting the continent and they consider it necessary to strongly discourage all non-essential travel. 

EU corona map

Until now, the European Committee used grey, green, orange or red based on the current corona figures in each country. Practically every country shows as red and the risk is increasing as a result of the new virus variants.  The dark red category shows countries or zones with 500 or more infections per 100,000 inhabitants. Brussels recommends isolating all the dark red zones and that people within them move as little as possible. 

Dark red – don’t travel

In Spain, most of the autonomous regions are dark red. Only the Canary Islands, Cantabria, Asturias, Navarre and Basque Country do not exceed the category’s limits. The Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden would also end up in this alarming category on the new corona map. 

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Corona test, quarantine and tracing

To further discourage travel, the EU proposes that anyone travelling from a dark red area to another country within the EU should have a corona test and quarantine upon arrival. Several Member States, including Spain, already apply these rules. 

Travellers from outside the EU

For travellers coming from outside the EU, the Commission proposes three measures: travellers must be able to provide a negative PCR test before departure and go into home isolation. They should also make their data available so they can be traced if necessary. The EU is considering the possibility of a uniform Passenger Location Form (PLF). In addition, tests may be required after a period of 14 days. This applies, for example, to people who come from areas where worrying virus variants are dominant. 

‘Border closures don’t help’

The EU explicitly does not want to interrupt free movement within the union. Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said, “The agreement in October on an EU-coordinated approach to travel restrictions was a major step forward in our efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 while maintaining essential travel and the functioning of the internal market. The common map and a common approach to proportionate, non-discriminatory restrictions should still guide our efforts. What we now need in view of the new variants is even more coordination and a concerted European effort to discourage non-essential travel. Border closures do not help, but common measures do.” 

Spain’s colour map

In Spain, some regions have almost triple the cases to fall into a dark red zone. These are Extremadura with an incidence of 1,448, Murcia (1,332), Valencia region (1,245), Castilla y León (1,215), La Rioja (1,208) and Castilla La Mancha (1,158). The Spanish average is around 800. 

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