The European Commission has called on countries of the bloc to temporarily halt non-essential travel from India, in a bid to limit the spread of the Covid-19 variant.
This follows a proposal of the World Health Organisation (WHO) on 10 May 2021 to change the classification of the B.1.617.2 variant of Covid-19 as a “variant of concern”, raising the alert from a “variant of interest”.
“It is important to limit to the strict minimum the categories of travellers that can travel from India for essential reasons and to subject those who may still travel from India to strict testing and quarantine arrangements,” it said in a statement.
India’s coronavirus death toll surged past 260,000 on Thursday. WHO warns that the variant in India may be highly contagious.
The European Commission said limited exemptions should apply, including those travelling for “imperative family reasons or persons in need of international protection or for other humanitarian reasons. EU citizens and long-term residents, as well as their family members, should still be able to travel to Europe.”
For those travellers, the Commission calls on Member States to apply additional health-related measures such as strict testing and quarantine arrangements. These measures should apply regardless of whether the travellers have been vaccinated.