EU to Begin Easing Non-Essential Travel Restrictions
The European Union today moved a step closer to easing non-essential travel restrictions into the bloc with all 27 member states agreeing on measures proposed by the European Commission. The proposal agreement comes ahead of the start of the busy summer holiday season with the pre-Covid tourist industry worth approximately €782 billion to the EU economy.
EU member states backed proposals on easing travel restrictions from third countries, and for fully vaccinated people, in a bid to reopen safe travel to and from the European Union.
Amongst the measures agreed are the entry of fully vaccinated travellers on non-essential travel into the EU. Member States will be able to sanction travel into the EU of those people who have received, at least 14 days before arrival, the last recommended dose of a vaccine that has been approved by the EU.
The agreed proposal also allows for entry to the EU for non-essential reasons from countries with a good epidemiological situation. Currently, the EU is only allowing non-essential travel from a limited number of third countries including Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Thailand and Israel. It is believed that this list of countries will be expanded later this week.
EU ambassadors also agreed that the emergence of coronavirus variants of concern calls for continued vigilance. As a counter-balance, an ‘emergency brake’ mechanism proposal was agreed, which would limit the risk of such variants entering the EU. This would enable Member States to act quickly and temporarily limit to a strict minimum all travel from affected countries for the time needed, to put in place appropriate measures.
Commenting on the decision, European Commission spokesman Christian Wigand said, ‘This will help improve international inbound travel and it’s possible to do so safely while at the same time ensuring quick action to counter the spread of new virus variants.’
The European Council is expected to officially ratify the agreement on Thursday. It will be up to individual Member States as to what restrictions they will place on those travelling from the approved third countries, such as PCR testing or quarantine.
The plans to begin easing travel restrictions would give a massive lift to the EU economy. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation, reported last year that the EU Tourism sector alone was losing around €1 billion per month due to travel restrictions and impacting 13 million workers in the sector.