Catalonia enters maximum risk zone on EU contagion map

The Union "strongly" advises against travel to dark red regions

3 min
Coronavirus infection map of the European Union as of July 15, 2021.

BrusselsCatalonia is now in the darkest possible shade of red on the EU's contagio map. As every Thursday, the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) has updated its contagion map of Europe of and, in a continent where green already predominates, Catalonia is one of the few regions that is in the maximum risk zone, that is to say, it registers over 500 contagions per 100,000 inhabitants over the past 14 days. The twenty-seven governments of the European Union agreed that it was necessary to "strongly" discourage travel to areas of this darker red, both in origin and at the destination.

The whole of the Iberian peninsula is red, while Castilla y León and Navarre are just as dark as Catalonia. Outside Spain, only Groningen (Netherlands) and Cyprus are also on maximum alert. As for the rest of Europe, the vast majority is painted green, with the worst situations in some regions of Croatia, Greece, the Netherlands and Denmark

Map of coronavirus incidence by region in Europe as of 15 July 2021

With the EU's Covid Certificate, European governments also agreed to avoid applying additional restrictions on travellers unless the epidemiological situation made it strictly necessary, but after all, border management in case of a health crisis is the responsibility of each state and that is why countries such as Germany and France began advising against travel to Spain and Portugal a week ago.

The EU's colour map aims to establish common criteria for restrictions and travel requirements for European citizens, and that is why the same recommendation provides that, although no restrictions beyond tests and quarantines would apply to unvaccinated people travelling between green areas, travel to and from red regions would be strongly dissuaded. "Because of the higher risk in dark red areas, member states would have to require people coming from these areas to take a test or be confined," says the European Commission, which also extends this advice to essential workers.

The alarming situation in Spain in general and Catalonia in particular is already affecting August tourist bookings. On Thursday, the Netherlands joined Germany in advising against travel to the Balearic and Canary Islands (and also to Cyprus). The UK has also removed the Balearic Islands from its list of green travel zones. And this Thursday the Independent Authority for Fiscal Responsibility (Airef) has warned that the increase in contagions may jeopardise the recovery of the tourism sector and also the exit of the crisis

The importance of being vaccinated with the full guideline

The European authorities already warned at the end of February that we should not be overconfident with the arrival of good weather due to new variants, and now both the European Commission and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) reiterates that the only solution is to vaccinate as many people as possible with the full guideline. In fact, some pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer are already studying whether a third dose will be necessary due to the virulence of the delta variant

Meanwhile, several European countries are backtracking on easing restrictions to stop the escalation of contagions. For example, France has announced the compulsory vaccination among health workers and also the use of the vaccination certificate to enter cultural events or restaurants. In fact, one of the concerns of the authorities is to convince the percentage of the population reluctant to be vaccinated. "More and more vaccines are going unused", the European Commission president herself, Ursula von der Leyen, acknowledged a week ago, referring to the need to vaccinate what she called "sceptics". Currently, 65.8% of Europeans have received one dose and 47.7% have received the full course of vaccinations. The target that Brussels was trying to achieve on 14th July of vaccinating 70% of the adult population with one dose has not yet been reached, despite the fact that all the necessary vaccines have been delivered to member states in order to reach it.