In time for the summer tourist season, European Union countries have agreed to ease COVID-19 travel restrictions on visitors from outside the EU.
Ambassadors from the 27 EU countries approved a proposal to let in tourists and business travellers who are fully vaccinated, and to extend the approved list of “safe” countries where even non-vaccinated people can come from, EU sources said on Thursday morning (Australian time).
The plan also covers non-EU members Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, but not Ireland.
More countries to join Australia on the safe list
Australia is already on the current list of seven countries from where people can travel to Europe regardless of whether or not they have been vaccinated. The other countries already on the ‘COVID-safe’ list are New Zealand, Singapore, Israel, South Korea, Thailand and Rwanda.
An expanded list of countries is expected to be set this week or early next week.
The United States is not expected to be on the COVID-safe list, but Americans with proof they are fully-vaccinated would be allowed into Europe under the new rules.
It is not clear if Britain will be on the list. One EU diplomat said cases of the Indian variant in Britain would need to be taken into account, although individual EU countries are already setting their own policies, reported Reuters.
Portugal lifted a four-month travel ban on British tourists on Monday.
Individual countries in Europe can and will still be able to choose to demand a negative COVID-19 test or a period of quarantine.
If there is a significant increase in cases or a worrying variant emerges in any country, EU member states would be able to use an “emergency brake” to limit travel from that country. In that case, unvaccinated travellers would be stopped from entering, and the vaccinated would have to quarantine and take tests.
The vaccine rules
For vaccinated people to gain access, they would need to have received an EU-approved vaccine, with those with a World Health Organization emergency listing being considered, Reuters reported.
They should have received final doses at least 14 days before travel.
Children should also be able to travel with vaccinated parents.