The European Commission — the European Union’s executive body — recommended Tuesday that EU countries lift travel bans imposed on Britain to avoid supply chain interruptions and stranding travelers.
The bans began on Sunday in an effort to contain a COVID-19 variant spreading in Britain.
As part of the recommendation, the commission advised member states to discourage nonessential travel to and from Britain but said people heading to their country of residence should be allowed to do so, provided they undergo a COVID-19 test or quarantine for 10 days.
In a statement, European Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said member nations should take coordinated action to discourage nonessential travel, but “blanket travel bans should not prevent thousands of EU and U.K. citizens from returning to their homes.”
Germany, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, reached out to EU officials Monday seeking standardized guidelines for addressing the travel issue regarding Britain and the new COVID-19 variant strain.
British authorities discovered the new strain last week and have been working closely with the World Health Organization. Preliminary indications are that the virus spreads more quickly than earlier strains, but WHO officials said at a news conference on Monday there is zero evidence the strain is more severe or deadly.
The officials said viruses develop new strains all the time, and the best way to prevent that from happening is to keep it from spreading.
EU officials say the variant has been detected in a few cases in Belgium, Denmark, Italy and the Netherlands.
Earlier Tuesday, the head of Germany’s Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Disease Control said given those facts, it is likely the strain has spread to Germany, as well.