Amid a resurgence of Covid-19 in Europe, the European Union’s executive arm recommended on Friday that the 27 member nations coordinate their approach to travel within the bloc, with the aim of simplifying movement within what used to be a borderless zone.
Although European borders have reopened this summer, travel has become increasingly complicated because of discrepancies between national measures regarding obligatory quarantine and testing, as well as different methods for classifying high-risk areas.
This week, Hungary became the first E.U. member to close its borders completely to all nonresidents, including other European citizens. Belgium, in an abrupt announcement, banned nonessential travel to a number of European regions, and imposed a mandatory 14-day quarantine on travelers returning from those areas, which include Paris, a one-hour train ride away. Poland, equally suddenly, banned flight connections with 44 countries, including Spain and Romania.
Meanwhile, German health authorities are considering shortening quarantine periods for those who have been in contact with patients testing positive for the coronavirus or those returning from high-risk countries to five days from 14 days currently.
The proposal made by the European Commission, which must be voted on by ministers from member nations, puts forward a coordinated system of color coding for low-, medium- and high-risk areas of the continent. The system is based on information to be provided weekly by national governments on the number of new confirmed infections, the number of tests carried out and percentage that were positive.
The European Commission also called on national governments to adopt a single set of measures for all travelers from high-risk areas, and to communicate new restrictions in advance.
“People deserve to know in which zone they are,” said Ylva Johansson, the E.U.’s home affairs commissioner. “Both citizens and businesses need to have a degree of certainty.”
Reporting was contributed by Geneva Abdul, Livia Albeck-Ripka, Emma Bubola, Aurelien Breeden, Ben Casselman, Joyce Cohen, Choe Sang-hun, Michael Gold, Rebecca Halleck, Isabel Kershner, Richard C. Paddock, Gaia Pianigiani, Eduardo Porter, Monika Pronczuk, Campbell Robertson, Eliza Shapiro, Christopher F. Schuetze, Tracey Tully, Julie Turkewitz, Will Wright, Katherine J. Wu and Carl Zimmer.