In a press release issued by the Council, it has been noted that travel restrictions imposed throughout the pandemic have shown that they are not effective in preventing the spread of the Coronavirus and its variants. As informed by a news report in Schengen Visa
It also insists that imposing restrictions on passengers from China, as France, Italy and Spain have done, is not scientifically justified or risk-based and that health institutions like the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) do not support such measures either.
Commenting on the new restrictions, the Director General of ACI EUROPE, Olivier Jankovec, expressed his regrets, asserting that the world has not learnt the painful lessons of the past years that travel restrictions do not work. “We are once again plunging back into a patchwork of unjustified and uncoordinated travel restrictions, which have no basis in scientific fact,” he said.
ACI EUROPE has suggested that instead, the EU Member States should focus on the identification of new COVID-19 variants by other forms of surveillance than testing of travellers, as, i.e. testing wastewater from airports. A similar approach was also suggested by the EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides last week.
The Swedish Presidency of the Council of the EU, in the meantime, has called on the Member States to hold a meeting next Wednesday, January 4, to decide whether common restrictions should be taken on travellers reaching the bloc from China amid a Coronavirus outbreak there, after the latter reopened its borders on December 7, after three years of having kept them almost completely shut.
Italy became the first EU country to bring back entry restrictions on arrivals from China on December 26, though the country officially announced the introduction of measures on December 28. “The measure is essential to ensure surveillance and detection of possible variants of the virus in order to protect the Italian population,” Italy’s Minister of Health, Orazio Schillaci, said announcing the measures.
Immediately after, Spain and France followed. While Spain has introduced the restrictions on December 31 for all passengers from China, France will introduce such measures next Thursday, February 5. In 2020, during the first year of the Coronavirus pandemic in Europe, Italy and Spain were amongst the worst-hit countries in the continent, with thousands of people dying from the virus by the end of spring.
Data show that while in Spain, the total number of cases recorded is higher than 13 million, the number of those that have died as a result of it is approximately 117,000. In Italy, on the other hand, over 25 million cases of COVID-19 infections have been detected and around 185,000 deaths.