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EU Commission Recommendation on Temporary Travel Restriction for COVID-19 High Risk Countries

Posted June 28, 2020Cheryl Kilborn - Sr. AssociateArticles

On June 25, 2020, the European Commission issued a recommendation for re-opening its borders to non-essential travel on July 1, 2020. The EU includes all Schengen Member States (including Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania), as well as the four Schengen Associated Sates (and Ireland and the UK if they decide to align).

The recommendation temporarily restricts travel of third-country nationals from certain high-risk countries that do not meet the following criteria:

  • close to or below 16 new COVID-19 cases over the last 14 days and per 100,000 inhabitants;
  • the trend of new cases over the same period in comparison to the previous 14 days is stable or decreasing; and
  • the overall response to COVID-19 taking into account available information on aspects such as testing, surveillance, contact tracing, containment, treatment and reporting. Where data on such aspects is unavailable, Member States may use the total average score across all dimensions for International Health Regulations (IHR) when this is above 50. Information provided by EU Delegations based on the checklist annexed to the Communication of 11 June 2020 may also be taken into account.

The United States is currently considered a high-risk area for which entry of residents for non-essential travel could remain restricted.

When deciding whether the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU applies to a third-country national, residence in a third country for which the restrictions on non-essential travel have been lifted should be the determining factor (and not nationality).

Residence/nationality exemptions:

(a) Union citizens within the meaning of Article 20(1) TFEU and third-country nationals who, under agreements between the Union and its Member States, on the one hand, and those third countries, on the other hand, enjoy rights of free movement equivalent to those of Union citizens, as well as their respective family members

(b) third-country nationals who are long-term residents under the Long-term Residence Directive27 persons deriving their right to reside from other EU Directives or national law or who hold national long-term visas, as well as their respective family members.

Where the travel restriction continues to apply, EU Member States are directed to ensure that those travelling to study are exempted, together with highly skilled non-EU workers:

  • Healthcare professionals, health researchers, and elderly care professionals; Frontier workers;
  • Seasonal workers in agriculture;
  • Transport personnel;
  • Diplomats, staff of international organisations, military personnel and humanitarian aid workers and civil protection personnel in the exercise of their functions;
  • Passengers in transit;
  • Passengers travelling for imperative family reasons;
  • Persons in need of international protection or for other humanitarian reasons respecting the principle of non-refoulement;
  • Third-country nationals travelling for the purpose of study;
  • Highly qualified third-country workers if their employment is necessary from an economic perspective and the work cannot be postponed or performed abroad.

Meltzer Hellrung continues to monitor the gradual lifting of restrictions on non-essential travel at external borders in the EU and will provide updates as they become available.

This alert is for informational purposes only. Please contact your designated Meltzer Hellrung professional if you have any questions or contact us at