EU executive urges reopening in summer to vaccinated tourists

Didier Reynders, European Commissioner for Justice [EC - Audiovisual Service/Lukasz Kobus]

The European Commission proposed on Monday (31 May) that vaccinated people should be exempt from testing or quarantines when travelling from one EU country to another, and urged a gradual easing of travel measures as COVID-19 inoculations accelerate.

The EU reached a deal earlier this month on COVID-19 certificates that will show, via a QR code, whether a person is vaccinated, immune based on recovery from infection or has had a recent negative test. The scheme should be ready by 1 July.

The European Union executive, which is seeking to end a current patchwork of travel measures across the bloc, said on Monday that testing or quarantines should not apply to people who have been fully vaccinated 14 days prior to travel.

Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice, explained however that this was a recommendation to member states who remain free to apply their own rules.

He also said that national governments will be free to accept a vaccine passport from someone who has received just one dose, even if they haven’t had their second. But he added that countries can also choose to not accept just one dose.

About half of EU adults have received a first vaccine dose.

People who have recovered from a COVID-19 infection should be exempt from restrictions for 180 days. The Commission also proposed that more reliable, but more expensive PCR tests should be valid for 72 hours and rapid antigen tests for 48 hours.

Children, who are not yet in line for vaccinations, should not have to undergo a quarantine if travelling with parents who are exempt. Those aged six and older can be subject to tests.

The Commission has also included an “emergency brake” to re-impose measures for travellers from areas where there is a surge of infections or many cases of a particular virus variant. (See colour-coded map published by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

Travel from “dark red” areas, with more than 150 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people over 14 days, would be “strongly discouraged”, while for green areas, with fewer than 25 cases, no restrictions would apply, the Commission proposal said.

Only Malta is currently green.

The proposal, which will is being put to EU member states, is similar to that already agreed for travel from outside the bloc for vaccinated travellers and those coming from “safe” countries, although tests can still apply.

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