The European Commission outlined plans on Monday that would allow people who are fully vaccinated to travel to the European Union.
The commission proposed that member states ease the current COVID-19 restrictions that are in place on non-essential travel into the EU “to take into account the progress of vaccination campaigns and developments in the epidemiological situation worldwide.”
The current restrictions, which ban travel from all but seven countries to the bloc, have been in place since July 1, 2020.
The proposal includes allowing entry to the EU for non-essential reasons to not only people from countries with “a good epidemiological situation,” but also to people who have received the last recommended dose of an EU-authorized vaccine.
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“This reflects the latest scientific advice showing that vaccination considerably helps to break the transmission chain,” the commission stated.
Currently, the EU has authorized coronavirus vaccines developed by BioNTech and Pfizer, Oxford University and AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna.
EU member states should permit non-essential travel to people who are 14-days post the last recommended vaccine. If member states waive negative coronavirus testing requirements or mandatory quarantine requirements for vaccinated EU citizens, they should do the same for travelers outside the EU.
This would begin once the EU’s “Digital Green Certificate” becomes operational, the commission said. The “Digital Green Certificate” is digital proof that a person has either been vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result or recovered from the virus. It will be in digital or paper format that contains a QR code with a digital signature to protect against forgery and falsification and is completely free.
To obtain a certificate, travelers will need to submit evidence that they have been vaccinated to the individual European country they intend to travel to.
The commission also proposed raising the threshold of the number of new COVID-19 cases used to determine the list of countries from which travel is permitted, allowing the list of acceptable countries to expand.
However, the commission recognized the emergence of new COVID-19 variants, which “calls for continued vigilance.”
“Therefore as counterbalance, the Commission proposes a new ’emergency brake’ mechanism, to be coordinated at EU level and which would limit the risk of such variants entering the EU,” the proposal stated. “This will allow Member States to act quickly and temporarily limit to a strict minimum all travel from affected countries for the time needed to put in place appropriate sanitary measures.”