Crossing times at internal borders back to normal in most cases
Monday, 30 March 2020
Credit: Unsplash/ Alexander Schimmeck
The European Commission announced at today’s on-line press briefing that there have been significant improvement in keeping the “green lines” open for traffic.
“Our guidelines are respected widely. Waiting times and queues at the borders have been reduced at most borders,” a spokesperson for transport said (30 March).
He was referring to a communication last week (23 March) on designating all the relevant internal border-crossing points on the trans-European transport network (TEN-T) as “green lane” border crossings. The crossings should be open to all freight vehicles, whatever goods they are carrying.
Crossing the border, including any checks and health screening, should not take more than 15 minutes.
According to an on-line map by Sixfold (https://covid-19.sixfold.com/) most European borders are currently free of major slow-downs, with some exceptions that can be found on the map.
Truck border crossing times from France and Belgium is only 10 minutes but in the other direction it took 1 hour today.
Between the Netherlands and Belgium, the waiting time was 30 minutes while the queues in the other direction was 15 km.
Between Belgium and Germany no significant slowdowns have been detected.
Between Poland and Germany, the waiting time is 10 minutes.
The most significant slowdowns are between Hungary and Romania with 8 km long queues and 4 hours waiting times.
The Commission published also today published practical guidance to ensure the free movement of critical workers and the implementation of temporary restriction of non-essential travel to the EU.
The first set of guidelines identify workers that exercise critical occupations, in particular to fight the Coronavirus pandemic, for which continued free movement in the EU is deemed essential. These include health professionals, child and elderly care workers, scientists, medical device technicians, firefighters, police officers, transport workers, and persons working in the food sector.
The guidelines also clarify that Member States should allow frontier workers in general to continue crossing borders if work in the sector concerned is still allowed in the host Member State.
The restriction on non-essential travel to the EU applies to non-resident, non-EU nationals that present relevant symptoms or have been particularly exposed to risk of infection and are considered a threat to public health. Any decision on refusal of entry must be proportionate and non-discriminatory.
Nationals of all EU Member States and Schengen Associated Countries, and their family members, and non-EU nationals who are long-term residents in the EU are exempt from the temporary travel restriction for the purpose of returning home.
Certain workers from outside the EU are also exempt, for example healthcare professionals, frontier workers, and seasonal agricultural workers.
Non-EU travellers who have to stay in the EU longer than they are authorised to because of travel restrictions should not be penalised. For travellers currently present in the Schengen area on a short-stay visa who are compelled to stay longer than their visa allows them to, Member States may extend the visa up to a maximum stay of 90 days in any 180 days.
In addition, Member States should issue a long-stay visa or a temporary residence permit to short-stay visa holders and those travelling visa-free who are compelled to stay beyond 90 days in any 180 days.