European Union to Allow Entry for ‘Fully Vaccinated’ Travellers

A Fiumicino airport employee wearing a "Smart-Helmet" portable thermoscanner to screen passengers and staff for COVID-19, stands prepared at boarding gates on May 5, 2020 at Rome's Fiumicino airport during the country's lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. (Photo by ANDREAS …

Ambassadors from member-states of the European Union have backed a proposal to allow international travellers to enter Europe under the proviso that they are fully vaccinated.

At a meeting of the European Commission on Wednesday, the 27 member-states of the bloc agreed to allow vaccinated holidaymakers to enter the EU. Yet, it will still be up to individual countries to decide whether they will waive the vaccination requirements or other travel restrictions.

The member-states also backed expanding the “safe list” of countries from which people can’t travel to Europe without a vaccine. However, the list has yet to be revealed and the agreement as a whole still needs to be ratified before coming into effect.

Reuters reported that Britain is among the countries which would qualify for the criteria of the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention to make the list.

The United States, on the other hand, would not currently make the cut, although those Americans who could prove that they have received two doses of a coronavirus vaccine would likely be permitted to enter the bloc.

As a part of the deal, member-states agreed to lower the threshold for “safe” countries to 75 cases of the coronavirus per 100,000 as opposed to the previous requirement of 25 per 100,000.

EU Commission spokesman Christian Wigand said on Wednesday: “Today EU ambassadors agreed to update the approach to travel from outside the European Union.”

The European Council “now recommends that member-states ease some restrictions, in particular for those vaccinated with an EU-authorized vaccine,” he added.

Wigand went on to say that within the framework of the agreement, individual member states will be empowered to shut down travel under an “emergency brake” system if they determine it necessary to slow the spread of the virus.

No timeline has been given on when the opening of Europe’s borders will go ahead, however, the Commission spokesman said “we have seen in the past the Council moving very quickly on this”.

In March of last year, EU countries agreed to close their external borders for “non-essential” travel from non-EU countries in an attempt to slow the spread of the Chinese coronavirus.

The bloc later announced a list of countries from where tourists can come from, whether they are vaccinated or not, including Australia, Israel, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and China.

In March of this year, the EU Commission announced that it would be developing a vaccine passport, a QR code-based application that would contain medical information about the user including vaccination status and coronavirus test results, ostensibly in order to facilitate the flow of travel.

The scheme is expected to be put into effect starting from next month in the hopes of reviving the summer tourist season in Europe, which countries like Spain, Italy, and Greece heavily rely upon for their economies.

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