Earlier this week, I wrote about how the European Union member countries were getting all-set to open up to the rest of the world. Europe is going to allow fully-vaccinated travellers to come in this summer and people from a list of ‘safe countries’. Many in India are delighted with this prospect, and of course, waiting for the arrangement to be formalised so that they can pack their bags for Paris. I got tonnes of messages over a couple of days to clarify if India would be counted. However, this opening up will also have a control mechanism to stall entry from countries where CoVid-19 is spreading fast, such as India.
European Commission calls for limiting essential travel from India
In the recommendations of the European Commission sent to vote towards European Union reopening for non-essential travel, the EU had given the Member States an ’emergency brake’ option which they could use to temporarily pause travel from various other countries on account of the pandemic.
The ‘emergency brake mechanism’ is a coordination mechanism intended to limit the risk of variants of interest and variants of concern entering the EU. It allows the Member States to act quickly and in a coordinated manner to temporarily limit to a strict minimum all travel from a non-EU country where the epidemiological situation worsens quickly and in particular where a variant of concern or interest is detected.
In what could be the first casualty of the ‘Emergency Brake’ mechanism, the European Commission has called on the EU Member States to take coordinated action to further restrict travel from India temporarily, 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 May 10, 2021, to change the classification of that variant from “variant of interest” to “variant of concern”.
Per the EC, it is essential to limit to the strict minimum the categories of travellers that can travel from India for essential reasons and subject those who may still travel from India to rigorous testing and quarantine arrangements.
Limited exemptions for those travelling for compelling reasons, subject to strict safeguards
The European Commission says the restrictions should not affect those travelling for compelling reasons such as for imperative family reasons or persons in need of international protection or other humanitarian causes. EU citizens and long-term residents and their family members should still be able to travel to Europe.
The Commission called on the Member States to apply additional health-related measures such as strict testing and quarantine arrangements for those travellers. These measures should apply regardless of whether the travellers have been vaccinated.
Even if you are a fully vaccinated Indian, please don’t dream up a vacation to the EU anytime soon. The EC has recommended limiting travel from India under the new ‘Emergency Brake Mechanism’. Also, if you are an Indian living in India, perhaps it is not the best time to travel for now anyways. Either way, we will find out soon about which way things will go once the voting is completed on the proposals.
What do you make of the new EC remarks for restrictions on travel from India?
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