European Union plans to open up for non-essential travel for fully vaccinated travellers

After more than a year of keeping their borders closed, the European Union might soon be open for leisure travel. Last evening the European Commission tabled recommendations that the 27 Member states of the EU restrict the current restriction on non – essential travel into the EU for fully vaccinated travellers.

EU Plans to open up non-essential travel for vaccinated travellers

The EU has tabled a 10-page extended plan for opening up now that vaccines are available.

The Commission proposed to allow entry to the EU for non-essential reasons not only for all persons coming from countries with a good epidemiological situation but also for all people who have received the last recommended dose of an EU-authorised vaccine. This could be extended to vaccines having completed the WHO emergency use listing process.

Member States should allow travel into the EU of those who have received the last dose of a vaccine as per the above guidelines, at least 14 days before arrival.

In addition, if Member States decide to waive the requirements to present a negative PCR test and/or to undergo quarantine for vaccinated persons on their territory, the European Commission recommends that they should also waive such requirements for vaccinated travellers from outside the EU. Children who are excluded from vaccination should travel with their vaccinated parents if they have a negative PCR COVID-19 test taken at the earliest 72 hours before arrival area. In these cases, Member States could require additional testing after arrival.

For now, EU Member States would accept certificates from non-EU countries based on national law, taking into account the ability to verify the certificate’s authenticity, validity, and integrity and whether it contains all relevant data. This means that the two autogenerated vaccination certificates from CoWIN could be helpful to travel as well, rather than just being able to enter the Mall in the future.

The EU’s long term plan is to receive your vaccination certificate issued by a non-EU country as reliable proof of vaccination and then give a Digital Green Certificate, which would be valid across the EU.

‘Emergency brake’ to counter the spread of variants.

When the epidemiological situation of a non-EU country worsens quickly, and in particular if a variant of concern or interest is detected, a Member State can urgently and temporarily suspend all inbound travel by non-EU citizens resident in such a country. The only exceptions, in this case, would be healthcare professionals, transport personnel, diplomats, transit passengers, those travelling for imperative family reasons, seafarers, and persons in need of international protection or for other humanitarian reasons. Such travellers should be subject to strict testing and quarantine arrangements even if they have been vaccinated.

When a Member State applies such restrictions, the Member States meeting within the Council structures should review the situation together in a coordinated manner and in close cooperation with the Commission. They should continue doing so at least every two weeks.

The EU Council will discuss the whole plan, and once approved, you should start hearing of opening up of restrictions to travel to the EU, perhaps by the summer.

Bottomline

The European Union has decided to move forward with opening up the EU Bloc for non-essential travel, and the European Commission has made a recommendation to this effect. Once this is agreed upon, the EU will be open to tourism again. Vaccines approved in the EU will be the only one recognised, so that would mean for Indian travellers, they should get the Indian version of the Astra Zeneca vaccine, Covishield, as the other one is not approved in the EU yet.

What do you make of the EU’s plan to open up to tourists once again?


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