An ongoing ban on non-essential travel into the bloc, in force since March 2020, may soon be lifted.
Envoys from all 27 member states of the European Union have agreed to loosen entry restrictions by reopening the bloc’s borders to travelers who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Specifically, this means anyone who has been inoculated with E.U.-approved vaccines from any of these four drugmakers: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Oxford-AstraZeneca, and Janssen/Johnson & Johnson. Under the new rules, incoming holidaymakers who can prove that they have received the required doses at least 14 days before travel will bypass all testing and quarantine requirements.
It’s also understood that the E.U. will revise its “green list” of low-risk countries whose residents will be able to enter the bloc even without being vaccinated. The maximum infection rate for any non-E.U. country to be considered for the green list will be raised from 25 to 75 cases per 100,000 people over a two-week period.
Right now, the green list consists of only seven countries: Australia, Israel, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand. China will join the list once Beijing approves reciprocal travel arrangements, but given its continued policy of Covid-19 elimination, that is not likely to happen any time soon.
Diplomats also agreed to set up a coordinated emergency mechanism that will allow the E.U. to quickly suspend arrivals from any non-E.U. country should a new coronavirus variant cause a spike in infections there. The updated travel recommendations are due to be adopted by E.U. ministers tomorrow, with a formal vote scheduled to take place next week. Additional details of the plan, including a timeline, will be released after it secures final approval.