The European Union's executive body proposed Monday that the bloc's 27 nations impose more travel restrictions to counter the worrying spread of new coronavirus variants but make sure to keep goods and workers moving across EU borders.
Amid concerns related to the production and delivery of Covid-19 vaccines, the European commission urged EU nations to reinforce testing and quarantine measures for travelers as virus mutations that are more transmissible threaten to overwhelm European hospitals with new cases.
More than 400,000 EU citizens have already died from the virus since the pandemic first hit Europe last year.
“The start of the EU vaccination campaign kicked off the beginning of the end of the pandemic," EU Justice commissioner Didier Reynders said.
“At the same time, new, more transmissible variants of the virus have surfaced. There is currently a very high number of new infections across many member states. And there is an urgent need to reduce the risk of travel-related infections to lessen the burden on overstretched healthcare systems."
Among the new measures, which need to be approved by EU nations before taking effect, is the addition of a new “dark red" color to the EU's weekly map of infections.
Reynders said this new color highlights areas where the rate of new confirmed infections in the last 14 days is 500 or more per 100,000 inhabitants. He said between 10 and 20 EU countries would already see that color on all or part of their territory if it was in effect now.