The discovery of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant caused turmoil within the European Union as member states decided to tighten their travel rules immediately after the outbreak of the novel coronavirus began to spread on the European continent.
The majority of EU countries have announced strict rules against arrivals from South African countries affected by the Omicron variant.
However, although movement from these areas is restricted, cases of Omicron infection have already been identified within countries of the EU/Schengen area. This happened because most travelers were able to travel freely since the existence of the new alternative was unknown until last week.
In order to prevent Omicron from spreading further, the EU Commission has suggested that member states constantly review basic travel restrictions with the addition that the joint strategy will stop the spread of the new variant within the EU.
Although the new variant was circulated, the delta variant spread quickly, especially among unvaccinated and unwell travelers, as more people frequent the interior due to the cold weather.
The latest map update published today, December 2, by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) shows that all EU countries have identified increasing infection rates over the past seven days, TheSchengen.com reports.
Therefore, the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) advised everyone, especially those who have not been vaccinated or cured of the virus, to refrain from taking any non-essential travel.
Based on data provided by the European Health Agency, the majority of EU/Schengen area countries – Belgium, Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Ireland, Estonia, Poland, Iceland, Latvia, Netherlands, Lithuania, Hungary, Greece, Liechtenstein, Slovakia and Slovenia – have high infection rates and are currently placed in the dark red list.
All of these countries have identified more than 500 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 population and had a test-positivity rate of more than four percent in the last 14 days.
Bearing in mind these numbers and with infection rates increasing every day, the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) has advised everyone to be extra careful and carry the necessary documents with them at all times if they have to take a trip.
In support of freedom of movement, the European Tourism Statement proposed that member states develop a coordinated approach and switch to a traveler-based approach.
Additionally, the same suggested that those with a valid COVID-19 European digital certificate should not be subject to additional travel rules.
>> EU countries tighten travel restrictions as Omicron variant detected in several member states