EU set to allow vaccinated US tourists to visit this summer

Change in policy will end bloc’s ban of more than one year on non-essential travel from most countries

People queue at a security checkpoint at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington. Reuters
People queue at a security checkpoint at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington. Reuters

The EU plans to open its doors this summer to US tourists who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said.

The change, which would come with certain conditions, would end the bloc’s ban of more than one year on non-essential travel from most countries to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The latest move came after “huge progress” in US vaccinations and as talks advanced on both sides on the proof of immunity for visitors.

It allows the EU's governing body to recommend a change in policy as many countries start to ease restrictions imposed during the third wave of the pandemic.

“The Americans, as far as I can see, use European Medicines Agency-approved vaccines,” said Ms von der Leyen in an interview with The New York Times.

“This will enable free movement and travel to the European Union.”

The bloc’s regulator has approved the three vaccines used in the US, from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

Under the EU's plans for a "green certificate" to open up internal travel, countries would be obliged to accept vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency.

While the bloc will recommend the change to allow travel from the US, member states could still keep stricter restrictions, which may include quarantines.

The resumption of travel would depend “on the epidemiological situation, but the situation is improving in the United States, as it is, hopefully, also improving in the European Union", Ms von der Leyen said.

The US State Department last week issued “Do not Travel” advisories for about 80 per cent of the world’s nations, including most EU countries except for Spain, Austria, Denmark and Estonia. The UK is not on the list.

The White House National Security Council had no immediate response to the report on Sunday.

Officials in Brussels have discussed the prospect of relying on government-issued vaccine certificates to enable free travel.

The US government said it would not issue "vaccine passports" because of privacy concerns, and any such efforts should be led by the private and not-for-profit sectors.

About 42 per cent of the US population has had at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine so far, and 28.5 per cent are fully vaccinated.

Updated: May 3, 2021 09:49 AM

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