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Picking the rule you like best – European Commission chief ignores EU Covid guidelines on quarantine length

Picking the rule you like best – European Commission chief ignores EU Covid guidelines on quarantine length
Despite EU guidelines suggesting Ursula von der Leyen should be quarantining for another seven days, the commission head has said that she will continue her self-isolation until Tuesday evening only.

The commission chief began her isolation on Monday morning, following the announcement that she had participated in a meeting last Tuesday with a Portuguese councillor, Antonio Lobo Xavier, who has tested positive for coronavirus. Xavier only tested positive for Covid on Sunday which explains why the EC president was not isolating at the end of last week.

On Monday evening, von der Leyen said that she had tested negative again for coronavirus and that she would continue her self-isolation for one day, in line with the “regulations in force,” a reference to the rules in Belgium.

By finishing her isolation on Tuesday, von der Leyen is choosing to comply with Belgian law, which is where the European Commission is headquartered. However, her decision also means that the commission head is snubbing European guidelines on quarantine length.

EU guidelines, reinforced in a publication by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control in September, recommends a 14-day quarantine for a anyone who has been in contact with a SARS-CoV-2 case; this can be shortened to 10 days, if the person tests negative on day 10.

Belgium is one of a number of countries to have shortened the mandatory quarantine period. On October 1, its Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes reduced the minimum quarantine period from 14 to seven days, making it one of the shortest in Europe, despite the country emerging as an epicenter for the Covid second wave. 

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In September the European Commission called on member governments to establish a more coordinated approach to tackle coronavirus. The EC’s proposal pushed for the establishment of common criteria to assess epidemiological risk, for the implementation of common measures governing the arrival and return of travelers, as well as for the provision of clear and comprehensive information on travel restrictions.

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