Today, the Commission has published a measure which allows Member States to carry out official controls on the agri-food chain on a more flexible basis, in order to tackle the specific challenges of the situation due to COVID-19. The measure helps to prevent the spread of the disease through movements of control staff and to facilitate the movement of animals, plants, food and feed into and within the EU, in spite of the current circumstances. At the same time, the measure does not modify substantial rules of EU law regulating public and animal health, food and feed safety and animal welfare.

Veterinary and phytosanitary controls on animals, plants, food and feed may exceptionally be carried out using specifically designated persons (e.g. where staff of competent authorities cannot reach the place where the control should be carried out, due to movement restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of the Corona virus).Specifically designated laboratories can exceptionally be used where normally used official laboratories are not available. For border checks, electronically submitted documents may exceptionally be accepted for completing checks if the person responsible commits to provide the original as soon as possible. Physical meetings with operators may be replaced by contacts using available means of communication.

The measure is initially limited to two months and will be reviewed in the light of experience with its application. Member States that wish to use the measure have to inform the Commission and the other Member States.

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