BRUSSELS – The European Union agreed, on Wednesday, to reopen its borders to visitors who have been fully vaccinated with an approved injection and to those coming from a list of countries deemed safe from the perspective of the Coronavirus, allowing for wider travel in time for the summer tourism season. .
Ambassadors of the 27 member states of the European Union approved a plan to allow visits by tourists and other non-essential travelers, who have often been banned from entering the bloc for more than a year.
The move is seen as an economic imperative for countries dependent on tourism such as Greece and Spain, and the work has taken several months. Other EU countries that are less dependent on tourists for jobs and income, particularly in northern Europe, have been keen to maintain higher barriers for non-essential visitors to keep the coronavirus at bay. But they succumbed as vaccinations advanced and after they were promised the ability to reverse the course if cases rose again.
The new rules are set to become official policy next week after removing some bureaucratic hurdles, and depending on how willing each country is to welcome tourists, they can be implemented immediately. Some countries, such as Greece, have already said they will remove testing and quarantine requirements for vaccinated visitors. But most countries are likely to implement such changes more slowly and conservatively.
Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, the bloc’s executive body, outlined the measures In an interview with The New York Times in April. The formalization of freer international travel for people who have been vaccinated will deepen the divide between the majority of countries that still have very limited access to life-saving shots and the few wealthiest countries. The debate is likely to intensify How to improve equitable access Vaccines around the world.
Under the EU plan, the bloc will accept visitors who have completed vaccination at least two weeks before their arrival, using one of the shots approved by its own organizer or by the World Health Organization. Covering vaccines from AstraZenecaAnd the Johnson & JohnsonAnd the modernAnd the Pfizer – Bioetec And the SinopharmAccording to the draft rules seen by The New York Times. That would open the door to bouncy Americans taking shots from Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer.
Passengers who have not been vaccinated but who come from the list of safe countries are also allowed to visit for non-essential reasons, such as leisure and work. That list, which has been formulated on the basis of epidemiological standards and updated regularly, will be completed on Friday.
The draft standards seen by the Times indicated that the list would include countries whose “Covid notification rate” – or the number of new cases recorded in the previous 14 days per 100,000 people – is less than 75. Travelers from those countries are still required to show a negative PCR test to allow. Him to enter the European Union.
That bar would be too high for most of the EU countries themselves, which have notification rates well above 75. Greece, for example, recorded 269 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past two weeks. In Italy, the number was 249. Of the 27 members of the bloc, only three – Finland, Malta and Portugal – fall short of the standard that can be applied to other countries. According to the data Reported by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
Individual EU countries will retain the freedom to adjust procedures if they want a more conservative approach, which means some countries may retain demands for negative PCR tests or quarantine some visitors.
The draft rulebook indicated that children would not be required to be vaccinated when traveling with vaccinated parents but would be required to show a negative PCR test taken 72 hours prior to arrival.
The block would also retain the emergency brake option, a legal tool that would allow it to quickly revert to more restrictive travel conditions in the event that a threat variant or other Covid emergency emerges.
The main question about the practical application of the rules is how the visitor’s vaccination status will be determined.
Europeans will be provided with digital certificates that can be read across the block sometime in June. Ultimately the European Union wants to link its testimonials with those issued by national authorities in partner countries like the United States, but that goal may prove elusive.
For non-EU visitors, the draft rules document states that “Member States should be able to accept third-country certificates containing at least a minimum set of data based on national law, taking into account the ability to verify the authenticity, validity and integrity of the certificate. And whether it contains all relevant data. “
This would also give border authorities in every EU country time to accept or reject the vaccination certificate depending on whether it appears original and contains the required information.