US tourists to return to Europe after members lift travel restrictions

US tourists to return to Europe after members lift travel restrictions

BRUSSELS – The European Union recommends that its 27 member countries start lifting restrictions on tourists from the United States.

EU members agreed on Wednesday to add the United States to the list of countries where they should phase out restrictions on non-essential travel. This decision was adopted at a meeting in Brussels of the permanent representatives of the bloc.

The recommendation is not binding and national governments have the power to demand test results or vaccination records and set other entry requirements.

The EU does not have a unified Covid-19 tourism or border policy, but has been working for months on a common digital travel certificate for people vaccinated, newly tested or recently recovered from the virus. EU lawmakers approved the plan last week.

The free certificates, which will contain a QR code with advanced security features, will allow people to move between European countries without having to quarantine themselves or undergo additional coronavirus tests upon arrival.

Several EU countries have already started using the system, including Spain, Germany, Greece, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark and Poland. The rest are expected to start using it on July 1.

It is primarily aimed at EU citizens, but Americans and others can get the certificate as well – if they can convince the authorities of an EU country that they are entering that they are entitled to it. And the lack of an official vaccination certification system in the United States can complicate matters.

However, some EU countries have already started allowing US visitors. On the other hand, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said this week that a cautious and gradual approach should remain the rule.

“Let’s look at the science and look at the progress. Let’s look at the numbers and when it’s safe we ​​will, ”said De Croo. “By the time we see that a large part of the population is doubly vaccinated and can prove that they are safe, travel will resume. And I would expect that during this summer.

In addition to the United States, representatives of EU countries added five other countries – North Macedonia, Albania, Serbia, Lebanon and Taiwan – to the list of tourist trips. The European Council updates the list on the basis of epidemiological data. He is seen every two weeks.

The representatives also decided to remove a reciprocity clause for the special administrative regions of China, Macao and Hong Kong.

The recommendations are expected to be formalized on Friday.