France, Germany, Portugal go beyond EC travel restrictions

France bans almost all travel outside of the European Union.

European countries including France, Germany and Portugal have introduced further restrictions to travel, with measures going beyond the updated travel restrictions the European Commission (EC) set out for the region last month.  

As of Feb. 1, travel to and from countries outside the European Union (EU) for French passengers is banned, except for certain “compelling reasons” such as attending a family funeral, looking after a vulnerable person, or for a business trip that could not be postponed or attended remotely.  

Any passengers arriving in France from elsewhere in the EU must to show a negative COVID-19 test.  

Germany has ordered airlines not to carry passengers from high-risk countries. Affected are the UK, Ireland, Portugal, South Africa and Brazil. There are exceptions: German citizens living abroad and nationals from these countries living in Germany are allowed to enter and connecting services through German airports are still permissible.  

The German travel restrictions are to be in place until Feb. 17 and will be reviewed for extension depending on the spread of COVID-19 mutations.  

In addition, German interior minister Horst Seehofer said it was the “citizens’s duty” to not make any trips abroad. Traveling to high-risk countries would be “reckless,” he said.  

Portugal, which has seen a huge increase in COVID-19 cases in the past several weeks, has also introduced tighter travel restrictions, closing its land border with Spain for at least two weeks in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus.  

In January, the EC set out new proposals for travel restrictions, including adding a new "dark red zone" to its virus map of the region and urging member states to step up measures applied to travelers from high-risk zones or those in which new variants of the COVID-19 coronavirus had been detected.  

The EC proposed two sets of changes, one to travel within the EU region and one governing arrivals from outside it, and said it wanted to strongly discourage all non-essential travel until the epidemiological situation had improved considerably.  

The proposals for travel within the EU include updating the color code and map currently being used to help track the spread of the virus across different regions, as well as applying stricter measures to travelers from high-risk areas.

The EC is also proposing updated rules for passengers from outside the EU, with mandatory pre-departure testing; quarantine, contact tracing and testing after arrival for passengers from areas in which a “variant of concern” had been detected; and a common European passenger locator form.

Photo credit: Maxime Letertre / Groupe ADP