ECDC reacts to the incidence of new mutations of COVID-19, i.e. a new dark red category of countries is added to the travel traffic light system

In reaction to the findings of European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC), the European Council has agreed to intensify travel measures. As of 5 February, the traffic light system will have a new dark red category, which will include countries evaluated as high-risk.

When returning from countries in the dark red category, it will be mandatory to complete an arrival form and submit a PCR test result before entering the Czech Republic. Antigen tests may be at most 24 hours old. PCR tests may be at most 72 hours old. It will then be obligatory to take a second PCR test in the Czech Republic, no sooner than 5 days after arrival. Until the second negative test is submitted, self-isolation is required. This concerns categories of countries with a very high risk of COVID-19 incidence. This category includes all the member states of the European Union and third countries which are not specified in this notice.

“In connection with the incidence of new mutations of COVID-19 disease, the European Centre has recommended avoiding all non-essential travel. Another reason for the measure is the very high risk of community transmission within Europe,” explains Health Minister Jan Blatný.

The red category of countries currently includes Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, France, Italy, Cyprus, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Austria, Romania, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, the Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands. When returning from these countries, it is mandatory to submit the result of an antigen or PCR test and complete an arrival form. Once again, the antigen tests may be at most 24 hours old and the PCR tests 72 hours old. At the latest 5 days after their arrival, every traveller is also obliged to undertake a PCR test. Until then, they must remain in self-isolation. 

Travellers returning to the Czech Republic from countries in the orange category must complete an arrival form before returning and also submit the result of an antigen test (no more than 24 hours old) or PCR test (no more than 72 hours old). This category of countries current includes Finland, Greece, Iceland and Norway.

For dark red, red and yellow categories of countries, it also applies that employees and students are obliged to submit the test results to their employer or school where they study.

“All persons who have returned from a country in the yellow, red or dark red category are ideally obliged to wear a respirator without an exhalation valve in at least class FFP2, KN95, N95, P2, DS or at least a disposable surgical mask anywhere outside their home for a period of 10 days after arrival. Furthermore, we strongly advise Czech citizens not to travel unless absolutely necessary,” added Chief Public Health Officer of the Czech Republic Jarmila Rážová.   

The traffic light system also includes the category of green countries where none of these obligations apply. Given the current epidemiological situation across Europe, the only European country classified in this category at present is Vatican City.

A list of countries according to risk of infection can be found here.