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EU members agreed on a method to determine safe travel destinations within Europe on Friday in hopes of unifying the random patchwork of block restrictions due to Covid-19.
Envoys from the 27 EU member states agreed on a list of recommendations that contain a color code to identify risk areas: green, orange or red, depending on the situation.
However, the recommendations remain voluntary and individual countries are free to accept the proposals or to ignore them entirely.
The travel industry, hit by the coronavirus pandemic, is hoping the measures will be largely implemented and will help make travel within Europe less chaotic.
The methodology was agreed when the pandemic in Europe is going through a second wave and new infections in Madrid, Paris and other major EU destinations are reaching alarming proportions.
"This is an important step that, with a joint risk analysis, will lead to more predictability and transparency when traveling under Covid conditions in the EU," tweeted a spokesman for the EU presidency.
As at the beginning of the pandemic last spring, the EU countries are currently pursuing very different approaches to travel restrictions due to Covid-19.
For example, Germany has issued a travel warning for Belgium, France not. Hungary has now issued a general ban on all visits, with the exception of travelers from Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
To make things easier for travelers, the European Commission recommended the color code system.
In the plan, the Member States undertake to provide the necessary data at regional and not just national level.
The EU criteria include the number of positive cases per 100,000 people and the test rate in a given population.
The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control publishes a weekly updated map based on these data. How the Member States use the data is, however, up to them.
The proposal also insists that "Member States should continue their coordination efforts on the length of the quarantine and alternative options".
The proposal is due to be formally adopted on Tuesday at a meeting of Ministers for European Affairs.
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The EU agrees to common virus rules to end the travel chaos (2020, October 9th).
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