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If a European Union country cannot deport an asylum seeker to another EU member within six months due to the Covid-19 pandemic the current country of residence becomes responsible for the case, the European Court of Justice ruled on Thursday.

In the EU, the country where an asylum seeker first enters the bloc is in charge of processing their application, however some people travel on to other countries.

If a person cannot be transferred back to their country of first entry within the six months, the country where the person is staying must take over the case.

Thursday’s ruling is linked to cases in Germany in which three applicants were due to be transferred back to Italy for their asylum application to be processed there when the pandemic hit.

German authorities argued that they did not become responsible for the cases as the six-month time limit on deportations was paused, due to the overall suspension of deportations between Germany and Italy during the pandemic.

The EU’s top court confirmed in its ruling that deportations within the EU must be carried out within six months, even in the event of travel restrictions imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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