The European Commission points to the lack of coordination in applying travel restrictions.

16-08-2020Laura Becerra

The European Commission has expressed concern about travel restrictions being adopted by some member states and has issued a reminder that, "given the restrictions at the start of the pandemic, coordination is crucial in order to ensure clarity and predictability" for citizens and for businesses.

In a letter to ambassadors, the Commission stated: "The situation is now volatile. Some member states are experiencing declining figures and others, unfortunately, are seeing an increase in cases. We have seen that some member states have decided to maintain or reintroduce certain restrictions on cross-border movements, sometimes in an uncoordinated way."

Among changes in recent days have been the German recommendation against travel to Spain with the exception of the Canary Islands. The Commission insists that border closures and travel restrictions cause "disruption" which should be "avoided as much as possible".

"Although we have to ensure that the European Union is prepared for possible outbreaks of Covid-19 cases, we must at the same time avoid a second wave of uncoordinated actions."

The letter, signed by the directors general for justice and interior, stresses the need to avoid restrictions and "ineffective" controls, urging that there are instead "proportionate, coordinated and objective" measures which are based on scientific evidence.

Instead of travel bans, Brussels is in favour of allowing movement, even if travellers are forced to then quarantine or undergo a test. "Restrictions on movement should only be imposed in exceptional circumstances, when it is clear that they are necessary in view of the risk to public health."

The Commission asks governments to be in contact with each other before implementing this type of measure, and as for the scientific basis to justify measures, there is a recommendation to look at more than the number of new cases per 100,000 inhabitants over a fourteen-day period. Account should also be taken of testing strategies applied by each country, including the number of tests and the rate of positives arising from these tests.

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