Pre-departure COVID-19 testing may soon become mandatory across member states for travelers bound for their territories, including those who have been vaccinated and have recovered from the virus.
This measure was discussed among the health ministers of the member states today, December 8, and comes in an effort by the European Union countries to prevent the further spread of the Omicron virus variant in the bloc, as well as to stop the increase in COVID-19 in general – 19 cases.
According to Reuters, during today’s meeting, it was Dutch Health Minister Hugo de Jong who is pushing the most for the requirement for negative test results to become mandatory across the European Union for travel.
“In addition, those who have not been vaccinated or recovered should also be placed in quarantine,” Minister De Jong said during the meeting.
The Netherlands already imposes a requirement to obtain negative COVID-19 test results for every person 12 years of age or older traveling to or returning to the Netherlands from outside the EU/Schengen or the COVID-19 risk area within the EU/Schengen. Very few categories are excluded from this requirement, such as people who have been vaccinated, those who have recovered and those traveling within the European Union.
>> Traveling to the Netherlands in the midst of COVID-19: All you need to know
The meeting was also attended by French Health Minister Olivier Veran, who also proposed imposing the same requirement on travelers from EU countries, along with a pre-entry test obligation for travelers from other countries. The proposal was rejected by many.
France is also among the member states that impose an obligation to conduct pre-departure testing on travelers from third countries. This measure was imposed on December 4 for all non-EU travelers over the age of 12. The test must be taken within 48 hours prior to arrival at the French port of entry.
The move has been heavily criticized by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which claims it goes against EU directives, suggesting that France should lead a common EU approach that would help maintain the travel connection.
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The pre-testing obligation has been enforced by many other EU countries and Schengen area amid the spread of the new Coronavirus variant, now called Omicron, which was first detected in South Africa at the end of November.
Since December 5, Ireland has also requested negative COVID-19 test results for all incoming travelers.
While travelers who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and who have recovered from the virus can provide evidence of negative PCR test results taken within 72 hours upon arrival or a negative result taken for an antigen test taken within 48 hours of arrival, the circumstances are More compact than the rest.