Over travel concerns, the EU advises member countries not to enact tighter COVID restrictions.
In the wake of an increase in instances, the European Union is encouraging its 27 member countries against introducing harsher COVID-19 restrictions, warning that varied measures could jeopardize the current travel and access certificate system.
On Thursday, EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders stated that there is “an evident risk” that “differing approaches amongst nations could jeopardize confidence in the COVID certificate system and impede free movement within the Union.”
The recommendation comes as Europe experiences an increase in coronavirus cases and appears to be the only region in the globe where the virus’s transmission is accelerating.
The World Health Organization said that infections in Europe increased by 11% in the last week, and officials have warned that unless immediate action is taken, there will be more COVID deaths—an estimated 2 million by the spring.
While some countries have begun to take their own steps, the European Union has warned that individual country limitations could jeopardize free travel.
“Holders of [an]EU certificate should not be subject to further restrictions in principle, regardless of where they are from inside the European Union.” Restrictions like extra tests or quarantine, for example,” Reynders explained.
The current EU COVID-19 travel pass verifies that a person has been vaccinated, recovered from an illness, or has recently tested negative.
Some German states have already started requiring confirmation of vaccination and daily negative tests, after the country reached 100,000 COVID deaths this week. Italy is to start requiring proof of vaccination beginning next month, while Austria plans to follow suit by February.
Despite mounting evidence that vaccine protection tends to diminish after six months, the European Commission—the EU’s executive branch—suggests that current coronavirus certificates be recognised for another nine months after a person’s first dose.
Countries in the nation-bloc are already changing their definitions of “completely vaccinated,” with France arguing that booster vaccinations should be required on COVID passes, while Belgium argues that a third shot should be required.
COVID-19 is currently Europe’s biggest cause of death. To date, 1.5 million COVID-related deaths have been reported on the continent, with about 4,200 new deaths per day—a statistic more than double what it was at the end of September.
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