European Union countries have agreed to a set of criteria to make the reporting of coronavirus cases and travel restrictions easier to understand.
The EU hopes they will make travel more predictable, and help prevent further disruption caused by the pandemic.
The recommendations adopted Tuesday include a new weekly "traffic light" map that will be published by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) showing countries' different epidemiological situations.
The three categories for countries are:
- Red: High risk -- quarantine on arrival/take a test (some countries may require a negative test in advance)
- Orange: Medium risk -- quarantine on arrival/take a test (some countries may require a negative test in advance)
- Green: Low risk -- no restrictions when traveling to another part of the EU.
The categories will be based on a clear set of comparable data from each country.
The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted our daily lives in many ways," Michael Roth, Germany’s Minister of State for Europe, said in a statement, adding that "travel restrictions have made it difficult for some of our citizens to get to work, to university or to visit their loved ones."
The new guidelines also set out how much notice should be given when travel restrictions are to be applied when a country moves from one category to another.
A member state intending to apply restrictions should inform the affected country and the European Commission at least 48 hours in advance. Members of the public and businesses should then be given clear, comprehensive and timely information at least 24 hours before new restrictions come into place.
"It is our common duty to ensure coordination on any measures which affect free movement and to give our citizens all the information they need when deciding on their travel," said Roth.
The recommendations are not legally binding, and the decision whether to implement them remains up to each member state.
These European countries are seeing rises in Covid-19 cases: