EU agrees on “Dark Red” COVID-19 zones with stricter travel limits World news

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Hotspots for COVID-19 infection in the European Union will be labeled as “dark red” zones to deter all but essential travelers, EU governments agreed on Friday.

The EU has already set up a “traffic light” system to mark the seriousness of the spread of the new coronavirus in each of its 27 states and to try to limit travel.

But with rising infections and contagious variants spreading most of the block is already red, so new dark red zones would help separate very high-risk areas and also help maintain rules that require testing at departure and quarantine.

EU ambassadors agreed on the new measure, proposed by the European Commission, at a meeting in Brussels, EU diplomats told Reuters. The new color indicates regions with more than 500 coronavirus infections per 100,000 inhabitants over two weeks.

At the same time, Germany and other countries announced that they intended to take additional travel measures to limit the spread of the virus, said an EU diplomat. The current President of the EU Presidency Portugal, which runs EU meetings from January to June, said all new travel arrangements were up to individual states.

Germany is preparing entry bans for travelers from the UK, Portugal, Brazil and South Africa to limit the spread of the more contagious varieties of coronavirus that are raging in those countries, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said on Thursday.

Belgium has prevented residents from taking holidays abroad until March to combat the spread of the more contagious virus variants. However, the EU Executive Commission insists that important workers and goods must be able to cross borders smoothly, part of EU rules that guarantee free movement.

(Reporting by Sabine Siebold and Robin Emmott; editing by Alex Richardson)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.

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