European authorities finally decided to drop the contagion map approach to decide who gets in and who gets out of the bloc and switch to a coordinated mechanism based on each individual's vaccination status against COVID-19, the European Council announced Tuesday.
The new measures will become effective Feb. 1 and will focus on the person's status rather than on the situation at the regional from where they arrive, an approach that has been recommended in light of the significant increase in vaccination and the rapid introduction of the EU's COVID digital certificate.
Also Feb. 1, pass regulations shall be adapted so that certificates expire 270 days after vaccination.
As per the council's new recommendation, a traveler's vaccination certificate, negative test or a document attesting to their having recovered from COVID-19, supported by a valid EU COVID digital certificate, should be the determining factor. It is called a person-based approach.
European authorities hope it will substantially simplify the applicable rules and provide greater clarity and predictability for travelers, the EU council said. Travelers in possession of a valid EU COVID digital certificate should not be subject to further restrictions on free movement, the EU's statement adds, except where the virus circulates at very high levels.
But the vaccination certificate needs to be of an European-approved drug administered at least 14 days before the beginning of the journey in no case 270 days before. EU member states may also accept vaccination certificates for drugs approved by national authorities or by the World's Health Oorganization (WHO).
Travelers will also be allowed in if they can produce ”a negative PCR test result obtained no more than 72 hours prior to travel, or a negative rapid antigen test obtained no more than 24 hours prior to travel (no more than 48) and a recovery certificate stating that no more than 180 days have passed from the date of the first positive test result.”
People not in possession of a European digital COVID certificate may be required to undergo a test before or within 24 hours of arrival. There will be other exemptions, such as travelers with an essential function, cross-border travelers, and children under the age of 12.