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EU countries agree to simplify travel rules with Covid certificates

EU countries have agreed to make it easier for anyone with an EU Covid-19 certificate to travel within the bloc without having to face any further restrictions such as tests or quarantine.

A customer shows her EU Covid-19 certificate
EU countries agree to simplify travel rules with Covid certificates Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)

The EU council, made up of member states has agreed a new recommendation, that countries should base their travel rules on an individual case rather than the region they are travelling from.

That would mean those with an EU Covid certificate, which proves vaccination, recovery or a negative test would be allowed to travel freely within the EU or Schengen zone without the need for extra tests or quarantine, even if they were coming from a country with high Covid infection rates.

This refers only to travel, and not to the domestic health or vaccine passes that many EU countries now require to access venues such as bars.

The aim of the recommendation is to “take into account the advantage of the individual situation of people, especially vaccinated people, and limit for them as much as possible travel restrictions in Europe,” France’s European Affairs Secretary Clément Beaune said.

The recommendation is set to come into force on February 1st, but it is non-binding so individual EU countries would be free to impose whatever travel restrictions they wish if they feel the need.

The EU created its Covid-19 certificate scheme to try to ensure free movement throughout the bloc but as infections spiked again in the winter certain countries chose to reimpose extra restrictions on all travellers.

In December Italy tightened travel restrictions for arrivals from other countries within the European Union.

All travellers to Italy from other EU countries have been forced to take a coronavirus test before departure and unvaccinated arrivals must quarantine for five days. That rule is in place until at least February 1st when it may be replaced by the EU’s new recommendation.

Under the EU’s recommendations from February 1st travellers should be able to freely travel to another EU country if they have had their primary course of vaccination a maximum of 270 days ago (roughly nine months) or if they have received their booster shot.

Those who have recovered from Covid in the last 180 days, and passengers who have had a PCR test 72 hours before arriving or an antigen test 24 hours before should also be allowed to enter without any further test requirements or need to quarantine.

Those without an EU Covid certificates could face extra testing requirements, although the EU recommends essential workers, cross-border commuters and children under 12 should be completely exempt.

However the one exception is if a country is classed “dark red” on the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s colour-coded risk map. In this case country’s could impose extra travel rules even on the vaccinated.

Given the spike in Omicron cases most of the EU is currently coloured dark red. But the map will soon be modified to take into account a country’s vaccination rates when determining risk level.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Copenhagen Airport passengers warned of more queues on holiday weekends

Long queues were reported at Copenhagen Airport during last week’s extended public holiday weekend and similar issues are likely during two more upcoming holidays.

Copenhagen Airport passengers warned of more queues on holiday weekends

Staff shortages at security checks, caused by a lengthy rehiring process following the Covid-19 crisis, have been blamed for crowds and long queues at Copenhagen Airport during peak times this spring.

Long waiting times at security were reported both Thursday and Sunday at Copenhagen Airport, resulting in a significant number of passengers missing flights, broadcaster DR writes.

The airport’s commercial director Peter Krogsgaard told DR that Copenhagen is not alone in experiencing problems with queues.

“Copenhagen Airport and all airports in Europe have had a lot to do in re-hiring and training many employees after corona,” Krogsgaard said.

“We are therefore seeing that, now passengers are coming back and fortunately want to travel again, we are under a bit of pressure to begin with,” he said.

This means that passengers planning to travel during two more upcoming peak times – the public holidays on Ascension Day (Thursday May 26th) and Pentecost (Monday June 6th) – should brace themselves for lengthy queues at the airport.

Up to 70,000 passengers are expected during the first of the two public holidays, according to Copenhagen Airport.

“We expect to be very busy and are therefore advising all passengers travelling within Europe to arrive two hours before their flight. If you are going to outside of Europe, to the Unites States or Asia, you should come three hours before,” Krogsgaard told DR.

Passengers have few options should they miss flights due to long waits at security, a consumer rights consultant said to DR.

“You are in a very bad situation if you get to the airport too late in relation to the waiting times there actually are at security, because it’s your own responsibility to get to the airport in time to make the flight,” Vagn Jelsøe, senior consultant with the Danish Consumer Council (Forbrugerrådet Tænk), said to DR.

The airport expects to be fully staffed by the beginning of June, DR reports.

“Since January, we’ve done nothing other than hire a lot of new people and they must be trained and educated, and it takes some time for them to get to the security lanes,” Krogsgaard also said.

Airline SAS last week said it would cancel around 4,000 flights over the summer. The decision was made due to staff shortages combined with delayed deliveries of new aeroplanes, SAS said.

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