The European Union closed its borders over a year ago to tourists. Now, it will start to allow entry to vaccinated travelers, providing they are from countries with low infection rates.
This is a decision that’s been in the pipeline for a while, but the bloc has confirmed this week that it will be recommending the lifting of travel restrictions in its member states.
In its announcement, the EU also said that it will shortly be issuing a list of “safe” destinations.
Member states may also be able to set their own requirements for entry. Some countries may establish entry requirements like proof of vaccination, a negative PCR test, or quarantines.
Additionally, an EU official said in an interview that another factor that could be taken into account when making the list is reciprocity.
But, at the moment, the recommendations are based on infection levels only. The current guidelines are that countries with 75 cases per 100,000 or less should be included.
Although different countries may use different measures, the EU Commission previously said that a certificate would be needed to prove that a traveler had been vaccinated, had received a negative test result, or had recently recovered from COVID-19.
This would be known as a “Digital Green Certificate”, although further details of this scheme have yet to be provided by the EU.
“Member states could also extend this to those vaccinated with a vaccine having completed the WHO emergency use listing process,” an official statement noted.
European officials are optimistic that the new rules will be effective in time for peak tourist season this year. This would give a much-needed boost to the travel industry and economy.
For countries like Spain, which is dependent on tourism as it accounts for 12.4% of its GDP, this could ease the current economic challenges and help businesses recover.
However, it’s still not clear when this will actually happen. It’s hoped that it could come into effect in June, but the plans do allow for an “emergency brake” if infection rates start to rise.
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