EU countries prepare shift to ‘person-based’ travel rules

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EU countries are closing in on a new approach to pandemic travel within the bloc by focusing on a traveler's individual health risk rather than their country of departure, three EU diplomats said Thursday.

Under the update of the non-binding rules, travelers with a COVID certificate would not face additional testing or quarantine requirements. However, countries could still impose additional measures for travel from areas labeled “dark red,” for high-risk, on the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control's coronavirus map — a status that currently covers most of the EU.

The map's colors reflect health risk by counting new cases, testing rates and positivity rates. After the change, the map would also take into account a region’s vaccination rate. One EU diplomat said the proposed changes to the map were still being debated. 

The new method follows a Commission proposal in November to take a “person-based approach” to travel inside the EU, meaning people with a COVID certificate “should in principle not be subject to additional travel restrictions, wherever they come from in the European Union.” 

Countries have held off on updating the rules amid uncertainty about the impact of the Omicron variant. The goal is for member countries to adopt the new recommendation at a General Affairs Council next Tuesday.

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