European Commission calls for limiting essential travel from India
The Commission calls on EU Member States to take coordinated action to further restrict travel from India on a temporary basis, with a view to limiting the spread of the B.1.617.2 variant first detected in India. This follows a proposal of the World Health Organisation on 10 May 2021 to change the classification of that variant from “variant of interest” to “variant of concern”. It is important to limit to the strict minimum the categories of travellers that can travel from India for essential reasons and to subject those who may still travel from India to strict testing and quarantine arrangements.
To ensure a fully coordinated and efficient response to this variant and taking into account the deteriorating health situation in India, the Commission proposes that Member States apply an ‘emergency brake’ on non-essential travel from India. On 3 May, the Commission had proposed to add an ‘emergency brake mechanism’ to the Council recommendation on restrictions to non-essential travel.
Limited exemptions for those travelling for compelling reasons, subject to strict safeguards
The restrictions should not affect those travelling for compelling reasons such as for imperative family reasons or persons in need of international protection or for other humanitarian reasons. EU citizens and long-term residents, as well as their family members, should still be able to travel to Europe.
For those travellers, the Commission calls on Member States to apply additional health-related measures such as strict testing and quarantine arrangements. These measures should apply regardless of whether the travellers have been vaccinated.
Any restrictions on essential travel from India should be temporary and regularly reviewed. Member States should assess their effectiveness in containing the new variant. When triggering the ‘emergency brake’ mechanism to further restrict travel from a non-EU country, the Member States meeting within the Council structures should review the situation together in a coordinated manner and in close cooperation with the Commission.