The European Union has announced a “traffic light” system in the hope of restarting international travel.
A colour-coded map on the Re-Open Europa website shows the coronavirus risk levels across regions in Europe, based on data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
Regions are classified as green, orange, red or grey, depending on the 14-day cumulative incidence rate (the number of newly identified cases per 100,000 people), testing rate, and test positivity rates.
The EU has agreed that there will be “no restrictions, such as quarantine or testing, on travellers” coming from areas classed as green; these regions have a cumulative incidence rate of less than 25 and the test positivity rate is less than 4 per cent.
As it stands, the majority of the map is covered in red, while Norway, Finland and parts of Greece are in the orange zone. There are currently no regions classed as green.
The EU has stated that each Member State will decide what entry restrictions apply for those areas classed as orange, red or grey. In this case, travellers may be required to undergo quarantine and/or take a Covid-19 test after arrival.
Regions will be classed as orange if they have a cumulative incidence rate of less than 50 but the test positivity rate is 4 per cent or higher, or if the rate ranges from 25-150 but the test positivity rate is less than 4 per cent.
At the other end of the scale, areas in red either have a cumulative incidence rate of 50 or more and a test positivity rate of 4 per cent or more, or a cumulative incidence rate of over 150. Meanwhile countries are marked as grey if there is insufficient data or if the testing rate is lower than 300 per 100,000 people.
The map will be updated weekly and also provides travellers with information on what restrictions are in place in each region.
The UK is expected to be included in the system until the end of the Brexit Transition Period on December 31, 2020, though current lockdown restrictions still apply to non-essential travel. The government of the Republic of Ireland has welcomed the move, stating that “all passengers entering Ireland from red, orange and grey regions are requested to restrict their movements for 14 days”.
Aer Lingus also released a statement welcoming the system:
“These changes represent positive steps towards facilitating increased safe international travel, which is critical to the Irish economy… Aer Lingus believes the adoption of the Traffic Light System will enable customers to book with confidence for travel in 2021.”