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EU executive branch proposes easing travel restrictions for vaccinated

The EU’s executive branch proposes easing restrictions on travels to the 27-member bloc as vaccination campaigns keep gathering speed.

Travel to the EU is currently extremely limited except for a handful of countries with low infection rates. But with the summer season looming, the European Commission hopes that the new recommendations will help dramatically expand that list.

“The Commission proposes to allow entry to the EU for nonessential reasons not only for all persons coming from countries with a good epidemiological situation, but also all people who have received the last recommended dose of an EU-authorized vaccine,” the EU’s executive arm says.

EU officials believe the COVID-19 vaccination campaigns will soon be “a game changer” in the fight against the deadly virus, especially within the bloc and the border-free Schengen zone. Its proposal will be discussed with member states’ ambassadors this week and the Commission hopes it could enter into force by June,

Under the EU’s executive arm’s proposal, EU countries should allow travelers from third countries into the EU if they have been vaccinated with serums approved for use in the region. Member states could also individually decide to accept travelers immunized with vaccines listed by WHO for emergency use.

The Commission also proposed to raise the threshold related to the number of new COVID-19 cases used to determine the list of countries from which all travel should be permitted.

“Non-essential travel regardless of individual vaccination status is currently permitted from seven countries with a good epidemiological situation,” the Commission says, proposing to increase the threshold of 14-day cumulative COVID-19 case notification rate per 100,000 inhabitants from 25 to 100.

“This remains considerably below the current EU average, which is over 420,” the Commission said.

It was unclear which countries would actually make the cut but an EU official who was not authorized to be quoted because the proposal has yet to be adopted says Israel would definitely be on the list.

“The UK, question mark, the US, for the time being, not quite,” he says. “But we see how quickly the situation in the US evolves, notably for the rate of vaccination.”

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