EU Traffic Light System Brings Little Change for Travel

The EU’s traffic light system, in which EU/EEA countries and the UK, and regions within those countries, are categorised as green, orange or red depending on their Covid-19 risk levels, came into operation at midnight on Sunday 8 November. However, only one country is currently green, two others are orange, and Government advice continues to be against ‘non-essential’ international travel.

Maps are published by the ECDC every Thursday in support of the Council Recommendation that was adopted by EU Member States on 13 October 2020. The maps are based on data reported by EU Member States to The European Surveillance System (TESSy) database by 23:59 every Tuesday.

Areas are marked in the following colours:

  • Green if the 14-day notification rate is lower than 25 cases per 100,000 and the test positivity rate is below 4%
  • Orange if the 14-day notification rate is lower than 50 cases per 100,000 but the test positivity rate is 4% or higher or, if the 14-day notification rate is between 25 and 150 cases per 100,000 and the test positivity rate is below 4%
  • Red if the 14-day notification rate is 50 cases per 100,000 or higher and the test positivity rate is 4% or higher or if the 14-day notification rate is higher than 150 cases per 100,000
  • Grey if there is insufficient information or if the testing rate is lower than 300 cases per 100,000
Combined indicator: 14-day notification rate, testing rate and test positivity at 5 November 2020

Currently the Republic of Ireland is red, with a 14-day rate of 168.5. Northern Ireland is grey as there is no data available on the number of tests performed. Only Greenland is in the green category, with Norway, Finland, the Azores, and parts of Greece orange. All other areas are red, except Liechtenstein and Slovakia, which are also grey. (NB: Switzerland is not included in the system.)

Restrictions on Travel

People arriving in Ireland from green regions can enter the State without restricting their movements or undergoing a test. Passengers arriving from orange regions can avoid the restriction if they have a negative coronavirus test result taken no earlier than three days prior to departure. Those arriving from red regions (except Northern Ireland) are required to restrict their movements for 14 days, but the level of follow-up checks continues to be poor. However, from 29 November those who receive a negative PCR Covid-19 test five days after arriving here will no longer have to restrict their movements.

Anyone arriving from Denmark must restrict their movements for two weeks regardless of the traffic light rating, over concerns about the new strain of Covid-19 in mink that has spread to humans.

The Government has said that by December people coming from red regions will be able to be tested here after five days, but continues to be indecisive about providing tests on arrival at all airports and ports.

Passengers travelling on certain essential functions are exempt from the requirement to undergo quarantine measures. These include:

  • Healthcare professionals, health researchers, and elderly care professionals
  • Cross-border workers
  • Seasonal agricultural workers
  • Transport workers or transport service providers, including drivers of freight vehicles carrying goods
  • Passengers travelling for imperative family reasons
  • Patients travelling for imperative medical reasons
  • Pupils, students and trainees who travel abroad on a daily basis
  • People travelling for business reasons
  • Diplomats, staff of international organisations and people invited by international organisations whose physical presence is required for the well-functioning of these organisations, military personnel and police officers, and humanitarian aid workers and civil protection personnel in the exercise of their functions
  • Journalists, when performing their duties
  • Passengers in transit
  • Seafarers

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