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EU plans summer opening for vaccinated tourists

(CNN) – After nearly a year of closed borders, the European Union could open in June to fully vaccinated holidaymakers from countries with low Covid infection rates in time for the summer according to a plan revealed on Monday.

Relaxing restrictions on non-essential travel, which will be welcomed by countries keen to revive struggling tourism industries, would also provide an “emergency brake” if infection rates rise again.

Reflecting the success of vaccination programs, the EU also wants to relax qualification rules to add to its list of safe trips countries whose travelers do not need to be vaccinated or go into quarantine.

Officials hope the plan can be implemented by the end of June, a year since the EU closed its external borders to most travelers, but borders could open sooner depending on how quickly with which the European countries approve the proposal.

The move comes as some members of the 27-country bloc are already planning to move forward with the opening. Tourist-hungry Greece said last month that almost all international travelers fully vaccinated or tested by Covid could come from mid-May.

The proposals, released by the European Commission, said arrivals must have been inoculated 14 days before arrival with a vaccine from its approved list, including BioNTech / Pfizer, Oxford University / AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna.

“Member states could also extend this to people vaccinated with a vaccine who have completed the WHO emergency use list process,” a statement from the EC added.

At the heart of the EU plan is a ‘digital green certificate’ which will serve as proof of vaccination or immunity and allow crossing the internal and external borders of the European Union.

Vaccination campaigns

International travelers can obtain one by submitting to their country of original destination proof that they have been vaccinated.

Prior to its introduction, Member States are informed that they will need to take steps to verify the authenticity of any evidence of vaccination presented by visitors.

Monday’s proposals also recommended changing the way the European Union decides which countries are on its travel safety list. Currently, only travelers from seven countries, including Australia, New Zealand and Rwanda, are allowed to enter certain EU countries on vacation without proof of vaccination or under mandatory quarantine.

“The proposal is to increase the threshold for the cumulative rate of notification of Covid-19 cases over 14 days from 25 to 100 [per 100,000 inhabitants]”, The EU statement read.” This is still considerably lower than the current EU average, which is above 420 “.

In the latest data from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, the United States has a notification rate of 258 and therefore would not be added to the safe travel list, but the United Kingdom, which has a notification rate of 258. 47, would be considered under the new rules.

However, the Commission proposal includes a so-called “emergency brake”, which “when the epidemiological situation of a third country worsens rapidly and in particular if a worrying or interesting variant is detected, a Member State may urgently and temporarily suspend all incoming travel by non-EU citizens residing in such a country. “

The plans will be discussed by European country ambassadors on May 5, and once signed, the safe country list will be reviewed every two weeks. Decisions about borders can only be made by individual countries, so each member state will decide whether or not to implement these proposals.

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