The European Union’s executive body proposed Monday that the bloc’s 27 nations impose more travel restrictions to counter the worrying spread of new coronavirus variants but make sure to keep goods and workers moving across EU borders.
Amid concerns related to the production and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, the European commission urged EU nations to reinforce testing and quarantine measures for travelers as virus mutations that are more transmissible threaten to overwhelm European hospitals with new cases.
More than 400,000 EU citizens have already died from the virus since the pandemic first hit Europe last year. Among the new measures, which need to be approved by EU nations before taking effect, is the addition of a new “dark red” color to the EU’s weekly map of infections. This new color highlights areas where the rate of new confirmed infections in the last 14 days is 500 or more per 100,000 inhabitants.
Since the discovery of the new virus variants, several EU countries have already reinforced their lockdown measures. Belgium has introduced a ban on all nonessential travels for its residents until March, while France could soon start a third lockdown if a stringent 12-hour daily curfew already in place can’t slow down the spread of new infections.
The commission also proposed that travelers from outside the EU should face mandatory coronavirus testing before they depart, tests once they arrive, mandatory quarantines for up to 14 days and hand over data for contact tracing.