What is and how does the European Union ‘Covid traffic light’ work to unify travel restrictions?

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The Council of the European Union adopted this Tuesday a recommendation for Member States to base their restrictions on travel within the EU depending on the epidemiological situation that includes a color code by zones according to the incidence ofCovid, in order to avoid “fragmentation and disruption and increase transparency and predictability for citizens and businesses.”

It is a map with the colors of the traffic light that indicates to the European citizens the restrictions you may encounter on your travels within the European Union depending on the epidemiological situation of each country, such as the need to carry out a diagnostic test at origin or destination, the requirement to comply with a quarantine at destination, or to fill out a form with information to be able to be located if necessary.

With updated data this Thursday, the traffic light turns all of Spain in red and it is the country with the highest incidence: 296 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days. Only the Canary Islands are saved and appear in orange.

From the Government of Spain, the Ministries of Industry and Foreign Affairs indicated that it is a minimum agreement that guarantees mobility of essential groups and the preference for conducting tests at origin and / or destination as a preferred measure over quarantines.

The Minister of Industry, Reyes Maroto, said that “this agreement is a first step to reactivate international tourism activity because it includes proportionate and predictable measures that allow improving the confidence of travelers” and, in addition, “positively values ​​the preference for conducting tests at origin and / or destination as a preferred measure over quarantines“.

Until now, each member state had established restrictions on citizens from other countries according to its own criteria and guidelines, many times different from each other, both ministries point out, stating that with the new recommendation, the evaluation criteria are standardized and the risk of discrimination between European citizens is eliminated.

Criteria for evaluating the epidemiological situation

Weekly the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC will make a weekly provision of data for the consideration of the essential criteria (incidence rates, tests and positivity) and complementary (population, hospitalization rate, ICU admissions rate, and mortality rate).

The agency will distribute the information in three separate maps for the three indicators defined as essential: regional cumulative incidence rate and rates of PCR tests and positivity at the national level, to which Additionally, a combined map will be prepared that will use the color code of the traffic light (green, orange, red and gray -if no information is available-). This distinction of colors will be made by regions, because within the same country there can be great differences.

How does it affect European citizens?

According to this color map, “Member States will decide whether to introduce certain restrictions, such as quarantine or testing, to travelers from other areas. Member States have agreed that there will be no restrictions, such as quarantine or testing, for travelers from “green” regions. When traveling from the “orange” or “red” regions, travelers may encounter restrictive measures“, explains the note released by the European Commission.

This map It will also provide travelers with general information on the level of risk at their destination and whether they might be subject to certain measures if they travel to another EU region. As a general rule, information on the new measures will be published 24 hours before their entry into force.

How are the red, orange and green zones determined?

  • VERDE: when the cumulative incidence during the last 14 days is less than 25 cases per 100,000 cases and the positivity of the tests does not exceed 4%.
  • ORANGE: when the cumulative incidence during the last 14 days is less than 50 cases per 100,000 cases and the positivity of the tests exceeds 4%, or if the cumulative incidence is between 50 and 150 cases per 100,000 inhabitants but the positivity rate is less than 4% of the total tests performed.
  • RED: when the cumulative incidence during the last 14 days is greater than 50 cases per 100,000 cases and the positivity of the tests exceeds 4%, or if the cumulative incidence exceeds 150 cases (current situation in all of Spain).
  • GREY: if no information is available.

Exceptions to travel without restrictions

If a European citizen needs to travel for essential reasons from or to orange or red areas, they will not have to quarantine. In this sense, the European Commission guarantees freedom of movement for work reasons, carriers, patients who need to travel for medical reasons, journalists for work reasons, passengers making a stopover in Europe, diplomats, students and everyone people who need to travel for essential family or business reasons.

The European authorities recommend to the general public consult the web ‘Re-open UE’ to check the restrictions for each destination. On this new site, travelers will find information on, for example, whether they need to take a Covid test at the place of origin or destination of their journey.

Countries that currently impose restrictions on travelers from Spain.
Countries that currently impose restrictions on travelers from Spain.
EXTERIORS

Objective: get to Christmas in green

The vice president of the Community of Madrid, Ignacio Aguado, on Wednesday asked the Government to assume “as its own” and establish “throughout the country” these thresholds of incidence agreed by the European Union to restrict free movement.

A waitress wearing a coronavirus mask serves a table on a restaurant terrace in London, UK.

Aguado pointed out that These thresholds seem “reasonable” to him because he expects the Government of Spain to assume them as its own and establish them in all regions. “I want a Christmas in which Madrid is a green region, with freedom of movement,” said the vice president, who indicated that this would be good news for the health of Madrid and also for the economy. In his view, achieving this objective would mean “a lifeline” for thousands of businesses that need a “powerful Christmas campaign to survive”.

The Madrid vice president added that this has to be a “common commitment”, both for economic and health reasons, on the part of the municipalities, the autonomous communities, the central government “and now the European Union.”

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