The European Union moved towards relaxing travel rules for tourists from outside the EU when the ambassadors agreed on measures to allow fully vaccinated visitors to enter Europe.
The ambassadors also agreed on relaxing the criteria needed for countries to be considered COVID-19 safe and from where all tourists can travel, depending on their vaccination status. Under the current criteria, the list includes only seven nations.
Last year, to prevent corona virus from spreading any further, the EU imposed restrictions on non-essential travel. The EU ambassadors told that many of the imposed restrictions should be eased that include allowing vacation travel by non-EU residents.
Although European Commission spokesperson Christian Wigand didn’t give a precise date for when the borders will reopen since EU countries have yet to formally approve the measures, said that European Council “will now recommend that member states ease some of the current restrictions” for those who have been jabbed.
“The council should also soon expand the list of non-EU countries with a good epidemiological situation from where travel is permitted,” he said. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control(ECDC) is yet to give advice on the list.
The US Travel Association praised the EU’s move and urged the U.S. government to adopt similar measures to and international tourism to resume.
“The U.S. has been a leader in many aspects of managing the pandemic but is behind our global competitors in pursuing an international economic reopening,” Roger Dow, the trade group’s president and CEO, said. “The millions of travel-related U.S. jobs that were lost to the pandemic won’t come back on the strength of domestic travel alone, so identifying the path to restarting international visitation is essential to an overall economic recovery.”
The European Commission said earlier this month that the entry should be granted to individuals fully vaccinated with EU-authorized shots. Coronavirus vaccines authorized by the European Medicines Agency, the bloc’s drug regulator, include the ones made by Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.
The executive commission also proposed permitting EU member nations to decide individually whether to allow in travelers immunized with vaccines approved by the World Health Organization for emergency use, which include the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine.
Wigand said ambassadors also agreed on an “emergency brake” mechanism to stop dangerous virus variants from entering EU nations through quickly enacted travel limits if the infection situation deteriorates in a non-EU country.
Once the non-binding measures are approved, the EU will keep the possibility to impose restrictive measures on tourists such as PCR tests or quarantines.
The 27 countries have been struggling throughout the pandemic to revive their tourism industry and aim to recover some income over the peak summer season.
Greece, which is heavily reliant on tourism, has already lifted quarantine restrictions for the U.S., Britain, Israel, and other non-EU countries. A deal is required by the end of the month to ensure the system will start working by the end of June.