EU leaders: No ban on unnecessary travel, but strongly discouraged | NOW



The heads of government of the EU member states decided on Thursday evening that there will be no ban on unnecessary travel, as several countries had called for. According to outgoing Prime Minister Rutte, all leaders have expressed the importance of discouraging non-essential travel at the moment. Still, according to him, a prohibition in Europe is legally “impossible”.

Rutte called people who still go on holiday “downright anti-social”. According to him, people who now go on a skiing holiday or another pleasure trip take the risk of importing the virus to the Netherlands. According to him, this could have major consequences now that even more contagious variants are spreading within the union. “You just can’t do that,” said Rutte after the ninth digital corona summit with EU leaders.

Belgium announced in advance to advocate a ban on unnecessary travel, but other member states immediately expressed their reservations. They do give Belgium the space to ban such trips itself, report Belgian media.

However, if the virus gains further strength, countries may be forced to close their borders themselves, the prime minister said. “We are also making it practically impossible for travelers from the UK, South Africa and South America to get here, of course.”

In his view it is also possible that, for example, Germany closes its borders with other EU countries. German Chancellor Angela Merkel already alludes to this.

Several countries fear that the virus will continue to spread if people continue to travel for unnecessary reasons, both within and outside the EU. The emerging corona variants could create a new pandemic within an already existing pandemic.

No European vaccination passport in sight yet

No decision has been taken on Thursday evening about a European vaccination passport, which Southern European countries had requested. This would give people who have been vaccinated more privileges. “Variants of a vaccination certificate are undoubtedly being developed in Brussels offices, but now it is much too early”, says Rutte.

EU President Charles Michel is optimistic that member states will agree on a common vaccination certificate, but stressed that this will be a medical document. “At a later stage we can see if and in what circumstances such a certificate can be used more,” he said at a press conference after the consultation.

Greece previously suggested that people with a vaccination certificate could go on holiday without a test and quarantine.

‘Corona fireplaces’ further isolated

On Monday, the European Commission will present a proposal to establish ‘dark red zones’ in the EU where unnecessary movements are restricted. These are areas where the coronavirus is taking hold very hard, says chairman Ursula von der Leyen.

Persons wishing to travel elsewhere from these areas should be tested for COVID-19 contamination before departure and quarantined upon arrival in another zone. Von der Leyen insisted that internal borders must remain open in order not to disrupt the internal market.

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