The CJEU confirms the validity of a number of travel bans related to COVID-19

The CJEU confirmed the validity of certain travel bans and obligations to undergo diagnostic tests and quarantine in the era of COVID-19.

“In a pandemic situation, a Member State may ban non-essential travel to other Member States classified as risk areas based on the health situation there. He may also require persons entering his territory to undergo diagnostic tests and go into quarantine.” However, these measures must be justified, clear, precise, non-discriminatory and proportionate. They must also be open to challenge,” we read in a statement from the CJEU press service.

The Tribunal has ruled in the lawsuit brought by the travel agency Nordic Info against Belgium.

“In March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 pandemic. Belgium therefore banned non-essential travel to or from countries classified as ‘red areas’ due to the health situation prevailing there. In addition, all travelers from such countries were required to undergo diagnostic tests and quarantine in Belgium. In July 2020, Belgian authorities broadly classified Sweden as a ‘red area’. Following this classification, NORDIC INFO, a travel agency specialized in travel to Scandinavia, canceled all planned trips between Belgium and Sweden. It then demanded compensation for the damage thus caused. The Belgian court asked the Court of Justice whether EU law conflicts with Belgian law,” we read.

Powers of states

The Court clarified that, in order to combat a pandemic such as COVID-19, a Member State may ban non-essential travel to or from other Member States classified as ‘red areas’.

“It may also impose an obligation on persons entering its territory to undergo diagnostic tests and quarantine. Measures restricting free movement within the European Union may be established by provisions of general application. However, such provisions must be justified and must have clear and precise rules, the application of which must be predictable for citizens. These measures must also be non-discriminatory and open to judicial or administrative challenge. Furthermore, such restrictions on free movement must comply with the principle of proportionality. They must therefore be fit for purpose, achieve the aim of public health, be limited to what is strictly necessary and not be disproportionate to that aim, which means, inter alia, that the aim and seriousness of interference with the rights and freedoms of the persons concerned,” the statement said.

Source: Do Rzeczy