Brussels pushes quarantine and testing instead of border closures
Brussels, Aug 16 (efe-epa).- The European Commission (EC) has expressed concern about new travel restrictions applied by several European governments.
The EC had advocated measures such as quarantines and mandatory testing of travelers instead of closing borders altogether, to avoid disruption.
In a letter dated 7 August, to which Efe gained access on Sunday, the Commission reminded Member States’ ambassadors that coordination in this area is crucial to ensure clarity and predictability for citizens and businesses.
“The situation is now volatile, with some member states experiencing falling numbers and some, unfortunately, experiencing a rising number of cases. We noted that in view of these developments, some member states decided to maintain or re-introduce certain restrictions to cross-border movement, sometimes in a rather uncoordinated manner,” the letter says.
Among other changes in recent days, Germany has recommended not to travel to Spain (except the Canary Islands) and the Netherlands has done the same with ten European cities, including Madrid, Paris and Brussels.
The Commission insists that border closures and travel restrictions cause disruption and should be avoided as much as possible.
The letter, signed by the Directors-General of Justice and Home Affairs, explains that while ensuring the EU is prepared for a possible resurgence of COVID-19 cases, we must at the same time avoid a second wave of uncoordinated action.
The letter calls for avoiding restrictions and ineffective controls and urges instead for proportionate, coordinated and targeted measures based on scientific evidence.
Thus, instead of a total travel ban, Brussels is in favor of allowing movement, even if the traveler is then forced to undergo quarantine or testing.
The Commission further explains that restrictions on freedom of movement should only be imposed in exceptional circumstances when it is clear that they are necessary due to risks to public health, additionally calling on governments to liaise with each other before implementing such measures.
As for the scientific basis for these measures, Brussels recommends not only looking at the number of new cases in the last two weeks per 100,000 inhabitants but also taking into account the testing strategies applied by each country, including the number of tests and the rate of positive tests.
The EC also asks that the regional distribution of cases is taken into account and that, in any case, mobility for professional or family reasons and for carriers of goods continues to be permitted. EFE-EPA