European Union agrees to allow entry to vaccinated tourists

ByTamara Hardingham-Gill, CNN, CNNWire
Wednesday, May 19, 2021
EU takes big step toward relaxing travel for vaccinated
The European Union has taken a step toward relaxing travel for visitors from outside the bloc, making it easier for fully vaccinated visitors to get in.

BRUSSELS -- Almost a year after closing its borders, the European Union has agreed to allow entry to vaccinated travelers from countries with low infection rates, raising the possibility of summer getaways to the continent.

The highly anticipated move was confirmed on Wednesday as the EU published its recommendations for lifting travel restrictions into the bloc.

An approved list of "safe" destinations is due to be signed off this week, although there's still no confirmation as to when these changes will be implemented.

It's thought that individual member states will have the final decision on what measures to impose, which means some could still opt to keep quarantine measures in place, while others may ask for negative PCR tests and/or proof of vaccination.

Officials are said to be optimistic that the new rules will come into effect in June, providing a much-needed boost to the tourism industry as summertime begins. However, the plans allow for an "emergency brake" in case infection rates rise again.

Coronavirus vaccines authorized by the European Medicines Agency, the bloc's drug regulator, include Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. The EMA hasn't approved any vaccines from Russia or China as of yet but is looking at data for Russia's Sputnik V jab.

Emergency brake option

An EU official told CNN that the bloc will take reciprocity into account when drawing up its list, but recommendations suggest that countries with less than 75 cases per 100,000 people will be included.

A formal adoption of the recommendations -- which are not legally binding for member states -- is expected to happen on Thursday.

The proposals were first published by the European Union earlier this month after bloc member Greece announced that it would be welcoming fully vaccinated or COVID-tested international travelers in the coming weeks.

"Member states could also extend this to those vaccinated with a vaccine having completed the WHO emergency use listing process," an official statement added.

It indicated that, in order to be allowed entry, travelers would need to have been inoculated with EU-approved vaccinations at least two weeks before their trip.

Further details of the "Digital Green Certificate," which will be required as proof of vaccination or immunity for travelers entering the European Union borders, have not been provided as yet.

The EU Commission previously stated that the certificate will confirm that a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, has received a negative test result or has recovered from COVID-19.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.