Border crossing issues are within the competence of each EU member state separately, therefore the new rules were adopted in the form of recommendations.
The Council of the European Union has approved new recommendations regarding travel restrictions to the Schengen area imposed by the coronavirus pandemic. The new restrictions were adopted by written procedure on Tuesday, February 2.
In particular, the recommendations provide for new conditions for opening the borders of the European Union with a third country for any travel, including tourist. To do this, the country must meet the following criteria:
— the number of new cases of infection should not exceed 25 per 100 thousand of the population in the last 14 days;
— the number of new infections in the past two weeks should decrease or remain stable compared to the previous 14-day period;
— the country should conduct more than 300 tests per 100 thousand of the population for seven days;
— the number of positive test results for coronavirus in the last seven days should not exceed 4%.
In addition, the spread of different mutations of the coronavirus will also be taken into account.
Based on these criteria, the EU Council will update the list of states for whose citizens the Schengen borders will be open. The list was last revised on January 28th. Only seven countries remained in it: Australia, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and China.
Additional restrictions on necessary travel to the EU
As before, so-called necessary trips are allowed. In other words, citizens and residents of EU countries, as well as, for example, transport workers or diplomats are allowed into the Schengen territory. But now, for their entry, they will require a document on a negative result of a PCR test, made no later than 72 hours before entering the Schengen area. This rule will not only apply to transport workers, such as drivers. Also, countries will, at their discretion, introduce additional restrictions on arrival — quarantine, self-isolation, or additional testing for coronavirus.
The recommendations also provide for the possibility of restricting the categories of people entitled to necessary travel. This will apply to those third countries where the epidemiological situation is rapidly deteriorating, primarily due to the spread of new variants of the coronavirus.
Since border-crossing issues are within the competence of each EU state separately, these rules are adopted in the form of recommendations. National governments will be responsible for their implementation. However, since it is the EU states that have jointly adopted these recommendations, they are expected to implement them.