Fully vaccinated travellers are now one step closer to getting back into Europe after the European Union, on Wednesday (May 19), agreed on measures that would relax restrictions for foreign visitors that have had their shots.
The bloc's 27 ambassadors said the restrictions on non-essential introduced last year to limit the spread of COVID-19 should be eased – specifically for visitors who have received a two-dose vaccine (or one in the case of the Johnson & Johnson).
The EU "Council will now recommend that member states ease some of the current restrictions" for those who have been vaccinated, said EU Commission spokesman Christian Wigand, as reported by the Associated Press.
"The council should also soon expand the list of non-EU countries with a good epidemiological situation from where travel is permitted," said Wigand.
The EU's European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control is to give advice on the list.
Countries will decide
The remaining question is how tourists will show proof that they have, indeed, been vaccinated against COVID-19.
The EU said it will be up to each individual country to determine how that process will work.
EU officials, in the meantime, are currently working on what’s called the “EU COVID-19 Certificate,” a pass that will enable free movement within the EU by reopening travel.
The certificate will hold one’s health credentials, such as proof of vaccination, results of tests for those who can’t get a vaccine yet, and information on one’s COVID-19 recovery (if previously diagnosed).
Among the latest recommendations of the certificate, which officials hope to unveil in June, is full equality among vaccinated and tested citizens – meaning, no additional measures such as quarantine or further testing should be imposed on travellers presenting the pass.
Earlier this month, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, writing on Twitter, revealed that it is “time to revive” the tourism industry in Europe by welcoming vaccinated travellers back into the bloc.
“But if variants emerge we have to act fast: we propose an EU emergency brake mechanism,” she wrote on May 3.
Several EU member states have already announced their own plans for reopening tourism, including France, which is set to reopen its borders to vaccinated tourists starting June 9, and Spain which is working on allowing access for British tourists this summer.
The EU, on Wednesday, also agreed on easing criteria for nations to be considered a “safe country” from which tourists can travel.
Currently, that list includes Australia, Israel, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and China, including Hong Kong and Macao (subject to confirmation of reciprocity).
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