European Union set to allow U.S. travelers as Covid restrictions disappear

European Union set to allow U.S. travelers as Covid restrictions disappear

LONDON – The prospect of the resumption of international travel this summer has just drawn closer.

Ambassadors from the 27 European Union countries agreed on Wednesday that restrictions on travelers from outside the EU should be relaxed, especially for people vaccinated against Covid-19, European Commission spokesperson Christian said. Wigand.

The ambassadors agreed to relax the criteria so that non-EU countries are considered a “safe country”, from which all tourists can travel. So far, that list has only included seven countries: Australia, Israel, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand.

The recommendations have yet to be formally adopted by the European Council, which sets the EU’s political agenda, Wigand said.

A source within the European Union also told NBC News that easing restrictions would mean fully vaccinated tourists from the United States and other countries will no longer have to be quarantined or tested when ‘they will travel to Europe. The official could not say when exactly this would start and could not speak openly as they were not authorized to do so.

Bloc member states could still make their own decisions about which travel restrictions foreign visitors can waive and when. An “emergency brake” mechanism was also recommended to allow member countries to temporarily limit all travel from countries with worrying coronavirus variants, Wigand said.

The relaxation of the rules was proposed earlier this month by the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, which said entry should be granted to all people fully vaccinated with injections approved by the European Medicines Agency.

These include vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. The EMA has yet to approve any vaccines from Russia or China, but is reviewing data from Russia’s V jab sputnik.

The EU is also working on a so-called ‘green certificate’ that would function as a single platform to record vaccinations, tests and recovery from Covid-19 to facilitate travel in the region this summer.

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Europe is eager to kick-start tourism this summer after international tourist arrivals to the region fell 70% in 2020, devastating its economy.

People sit at outdoor tables in St Mark’s Square as Italy lifts quarantine restrictions for travelers in Venice, Italy on May 16, 2021.Manuel Silvestri / Reuters

Americans made 36.5 million trips to Europe in 2019. That number fell to 6.6 million last year, a drop of more than 80%, according to figures from the European Travel Commission.

Wednesday’s deal comes weeks after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced last month that Americans who have been fully vaccinated may be able to visit European Union countries this summer. .

Last week, EU member Greece once again welcomed foreign visitors – including Americans – with no obligation to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated or have a negative Covid-19 test. , in the hope of reviving its tourism sector which represents about a fifth of its economy. .

After a slow start to its vaccination campaign earlier this year, the European Union continues to catch up to deliver enough doses of vaccine, and many Member States still face restrictions.