Commission: End flight and rail bans to the UK

"Flight and rail bans should be lifted given the need to ensure the necessary travel and avoid supply chain disruptions"

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A recommendation to the Council of the Member States, namely COREPER, meeting at 16:00 Brussels time, on a coordinated approach to travel and transport measures to the UK, was issued by the Commission.

The Commission is calling for an end to flight bans and the closure of rail links.

In particular, the Commission states that "although it is important that rapid precautionary measures are taken quickly to limit the further spread of the new strain of the virus and all unnecessary travel to and from the United Kingdom should be discouraged, the necessary travel and the passage of passengers ”.

According to the Commission, "flight and rail bans should be lifted given the need to ensure the necessary travel and to avoid supply chain disruptions".

The recommendation is based on an earlier Council Recommendation (of 13 October) on a coordinated approach to free movement in response to the COVID19 pandemic and several other guidance documents adopted by the Commission in recent months, in particular the Green Lane Communication.

Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said: "Given the current uncertainties and in light of the precautionary principle, Member States must take concerted action to discourage unnecessary travel between the UK and the EU. General travel bans should not prevent thousands of EU and UK citizens from returning home. "While precautions are needed to limit the spread of the new variant of the virus with the current Recommendation, we ensure that the restrictions are coordinated and provide for the necessary exceptions for returning citizens and other key travelers."

Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said: "Since March, the Commission has made firm recommendations on the control of internal and external borders that Member States must follow. This history allows us to deal with the evolving situation and the new challenges posed by the pandemic. In order to be effective, our actions must be coordinated and today we are facilitating the rapid action to deal with the new variant of the coronavirus, while ensuring that the necessary trips can be made ".

Transport Commissioner Adina Vălean added: "With today's recommendation we offer clarity to Member States on how to maintain connectivity and ensure transport services following the discovery of the new strain of COVID. Within the EU, it is important that transport workers are exempt from any restrictive measures, such as quarantine and testing. We must continue to keep the supply chains intact, in line with our announcement of the green stripes. "

Until the end of December, the rules of free movement in the United Kingdom remain in force. This means that Member States must not, in principle, deny entry to persons traveling from the United Kingdom. After the end of the transitional period, the UK will be subject to the Council Recommendation on the temporary restriction of unnecessary travel to the EU and the possible lifting of this restriction.

The Commission recommends in detail to the Member States:

Implement the principles of the October Council Recommendation on the coordination of restrictions on free movement. In the light of the precautionary principle, all unnecessary travel to and from the United Kingdom should be discouraged.

However, Union and UK citizens traveling to their Member State or country of residence, as well as third-country nationals enjoying EU free movement rights, should be exempted from further temporary restrictions provided that they are tested. or quarantine.

Travelers with essential function, for example medical staff, should be tested (RT-PCR test or rapid antigen test within 72 hours of departure), but should not be quarantined while performing this basic function .

Transport personnel within the EU should be exempt from any travel restrictions across the border and from testing and quarantine requirements when traveling across borders to and from a ship, vehicle or aircraft. When a Member State, in the specific context of the situation between the EU and the United Kingdom and in the coming days, requires rapid antigen testing for transport workers, this should not lead to transport disruptions.

Passenger transit, especially for basic travel, should be facilitated without quarantine. Testing may be required, but authorities must report this requirement in advance or offer on-site testing.

Given the need to ensure basic travel and transit at home, as described in the Recommendation, any ban on transport services, such as flight or train bans, should be lifted.

Cargo flows must continue uninterrupted, in accordance with the Green Lines and Air Freight Notice, in particular to ensure the timely delivery of vaccines COVID-19, for example.

Member States' public health authorities should step up their efforts to sequence and analyze isolated viruses in a timely manner to quickly identify cases of the new variant. They should also promptly identify cases involving individuals who have traveled to or from the United Kingdom in the last 14 days or who are in close contact with confirmed cases to ensure proper follow-up (eg RT-PCR test, isolation, improved contact detection). ).

Source: KYPE