(CNN) – After almost a year of closed borders, the EU was able to open in June for fully vaccinated holidaymakers from countries with low Covid infection rates in time for the summer, according to a plan unveiled on Monday.
A relaxation of non-essential travel restrictions, which will be welcomed by countries desperate to revive struggling tourism industries, will also allow for an “emergency brake” if infection rates rise again.
The EU reflects the success of vaccination programs and also wants to relax the qualification rules to add to its safe travel list of countries whose travelers do not need to be vaccinated or quarantined.
Officials hope the plan could be implemented by the end of June, a year since the EU closed its external borders to most travelers, but borders could be opened more quickly depending on how quickly European countries sign the proposal.
The move comes as some members of the 27-nation bloc are already planning to move forward with the opening. Tourism-hungry Greece last month said that almost all fully vaccinated or Covid-tested international travelers can come from mid-May.
The proposals, published by the European Commission, recommended that arrivals be inoculated 1
“Member States could also extend this to those vaccinated with a vaccine that has completed the WHO’s emergency listing process,” a Community statement added.
The core of the EU plan is a “Digital Green Certificate”, which will be a proof of vaccination or immunity and allow for travel across internal and external EU borders.
International travelers will be able to obtain one by submitting proof to their country of origin that they have been vaccinated.
Prior to its introduction, Member States are advised to take steps to verify the authenticity of any vaccination evidence presented by visitors.
Monday’s proposal also recommended changing the way the European Union decides which countries are on its travel safety list. Currently, only travelers from seven nations, including Australia, New Zealand and Rwanda, are allowed to travel to some EU countries on holiday without proof of vaccination or mandatory quarantine.
“The proposal is to raise the threshold for the 14-day cumulative Covid-19 case notification rate from 25 to 100 [per 100,000 inhabitants], “said the EU statement.” This remains significantly below the current EU average, which is above 420. “
According to the latest data from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, the United States has a notification rate of 258, so they would not be added to the safe travel list, but the UK, which has a speed of 47, would be considered under the new rules.
However, the Commission’s proposal contains a so-called “emergency brake” that “When the epidemiological situation in a country outside the EU deteriorates rapidly and especially if a variant of concern or interest is detected, a Member State may as soon as possible and temporarily suspend all EU citizens residing in such a country. “
The plans will be discussed by the ambassadors of the European countries on 5 May, and once signed, the list of safe countries will be reviewed every two weeks. Border decisions can only be taken by individual countries, so each Member State will decide whether or not to implement these proposals.